Juvenile offender group homes not secure: report
A city initiative aimed at reducing youth incarceration rates may not be providing adequate supervision, according to a Daily News report.
And now that lack of oversight may have cost a Queens teen his life.
Andrew Benitez, 17, was reportedly being held at Stephen’s House on Staten Island, a group home that is part of the “Close to Home” initiative, when he was arrested June 23 on charges of having killed Aaron Jefferson, 18, in Jamaica, Queens the night on June 22. Court papers reportedly charged that he used a retractable razor to stab Jefferson in the back and arm.
“Close to Home” places least-violent juvenile offenders in group homes in the city where they can be closer to their families. The homes are supervised by the Administration for Children’s Services.
The Daily News reported last month that a ruling by a Queens family court judge indicated that juveniles were able to evade the homes at alarming rates, and were reverting to old habits and ending up arrested once again for committing the same or new crimes they had initially been sentenced for.
An ACS spokesperson reportedly told the News that a judge reviewed Benitez’s case and agreed to place him in the group home as recently as February. The spokesperson also said the agency instructs group homes to securely lock up their housing, and recently decided to drop two of four social service agencies they were monitoring for reported difficulties in addressing such problems.
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