Transforming youth justice
The closing of the only secure youth facility in Toronto in Septemberis ripping young offenders away from their support system and families,staff members of the York Detention Centre say.
The closing of the only secure youth facility in Toronto in September is ripping young offenders away from their support system and families, staff members of the York Detention Centre say.
The York centre is a privately run facility located downtown on George Street. At the beginning of September, the provincial government gave 90 days notice that the facility’s contract with the government was over.
By Sept. 9, the youths aged 12 to 17 who occupied the 28 beds were dispersed to other centres outside the city.
“Why are they being moved away from their supports?” asked Deborah Satira, the centre’s program director.
Many of the teens come from single-parent, low-income families that might find it impossible to take public transit to Cobourg or Brampton to visit children moved to other facilities, she said.
“Our kids come out better than when they came in. We teach them skills they can use,” Satira said.
“My program and staff have helped youth be responsible for their actions. So many children will not meet these people (the staff) and that is criminal.”
Satira said the closure of York will cost taxpayers $2 million more a year and that transportation of youth to court will be an added cost, as it will be done by the OPP and not York.
However, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services disputes those figures, saying they are not true reflections of the cost and that they are assisting with transportation costs.