Syosset community sounds off on facility's intake of juvenile offenders

<p>Residents say they're worried about a Syosset facility's plan to house more teenagers, including juvenile offenders.</p>

News 12 Staff

Nov 14, 2018, 3:45 AM

Updated 2,016 days ago

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Residents say they're worried about a Syosset facility's plan to house more teenagers, including juvenile offenders.
At times, it was an emotionally charged meeting the MercyFirst facility, whose officials say it currently houses 116 children in the foster care program and another 14 juveniles who've been placed there by the court system.
The hot topic Tuesday night was security; teens apparently run away from the facility on almost a daily basis.
"They came into my house while we were home," says Ross Kass, of Syosset. "They came in our back door. They stole my wife's pocketbook from our kitchen table."
MercyFirst organized the meeting to inform residents that starting next month, the facility will be participating in the Raise the Age law, meaning some 16- and 17-year-olds will now be placed there by the court system.
"New York state was one of the only two states in the country that treated 16- and 17-year-old kids as adults if they committed a criminal offense," says Jerry McCaffrey, MercyFirst's president and CEO. "The idea of the law was to carve out kids who did not have an extensive history or repeat offenses, or that posed a threat to the community, to be able to offer them a second chance."
Mercy First officials admit that more than 90 percent of the teens who run away and commit crimes are not the ones placed there by the courts. They say it's usually the ones who are part of the foster care program.
The Raise the Age law goes into effect Dec. 15.


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