Gotham Gazette

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Adams 2021: In-depth - Upstream Justice

Upstream Justice

The Spofford juvenile detention center was long a symbol of what’s wrong with  New York, and it will always be a reminder to me of how I started on my path to  fixing this city. It was there — inside those walls as a juvenile — that I turned my  

pain into purpose. I spent the night as a 15-year-old, just hours after officers  repeatedly beat me in the basement of the 103rd Precinct. It felt like that place  was my destiny, that I couldn’t escape the pipeline to incarceration, hardship, and  hopelessness. 

I was one of the lucky ones. Most of the boys I was in with did not succeed. They  were not given the care it takes to change a life. 

I will make upstream investments to combat the crises that have held Black,  Brown, and immigrant New Yorkers back for far too long. As mayor, my mission  will be to do what our government has failed to do over and over again: Go  upstream and prevent people from falling into the river of crime and poverty. No  longer will we settle for just pulling people out of that river, winding up in places  like Spofford and the jail barge. No longer will we settle for re-patching together  a broken system and broken lives. 

My “Upstream Justice” agenda is focused on keeping our young people out of the juvenile  justice system and giving them the evidence-based support they need to get on the right track. 

  • Making the Summer Youth Employment Program year-round and expanding slots for youth  in the highest-risk communities. 
  • Fully funding Fair Futures to provide a life coach for every young person in the foster care  system through age 26. 
  • Implementing universal dyslexia screenings in our City schools, as well as our juvenile  justice facilities. 
  • Establishing a citywide program for brief sessions of meditation and mindfulness to start  the school day. 
  • Expanding access to counselors and social workers trained in effective mental health  therapy strategies. 
  • Fully funding the City's Crisis Management System, and being more proactive in recruiting,  hiring, and training community residents who have real-life experience with gun  violence-associated trauma to provide an immediate post-crisis healing space for  impacted youth, as well as to develop a working relationship with them. 
  • Scaling up successful restorative justice models like the Center for Court Innovation that  are community-based and shown to reduce recidivism.

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