Staff Watches Over Empty Juvenile Detention Facility

BARBARA NEVINS TAYLOR

Fox News New York

22 Nov 2010

http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/investigative/staff-watches-over-empty-juvenile-detention-facility-20101122

 

MYFOXNY.COM - Tryon Detention Center is like a poster-child for government waste. It is a juvenile detention center in New York without any juveniles. When Fox 5 was there in October, state employees were still collecting salaries.

The sprawling campus north of Albany is empty except for 25 to 30 staffers. Each employee collects almost $90,000 a year with benefits.

The state tried to shut Tryon down. It moved young people to other facilities. But the New York law requiring union members at juvenile detention centers and prisons to get a year's notice kept it open. Now the empty detention center costs taxpayers $3 million year.

There are other staffing concerns. Only 661 juveniles are in the state system, and yet 2,134 state employees watch over them. The cost is huge: $228,000 a year to keep a kid in a secure facility and $298,000 in a non-secure facility. Cities and counties pay half.

Vincent Schiraldi, the New York City probation commissioner, said that the half-empty and empty facilities throughout New York are bleeding taxpayers dry. Schiraldi has been trying to reduce the cost.

Fox 5 learned the city just filed a lawsuit against the state. The lawsuit claims the state is overcharging the city and counties throughout the state for services that it is not really providing by charging the localities for empty facilities.

While the city sues, pressure exists on the Legislature to change the law requiring 12 months' notice. Sources said that there is a push to get the legislation on the agenda for the upcoming special session.