Bias Slay Suspect’s Juvie Program Scored Only Modestly

The New York City juvenile justice program that was unsuccessful in treating one of the accused killers of Anthony Collao has recidivism rates that are only marginally better than the recidivism rates for all of the state’s juvenile justice programs.

Luis Tabales, now 17, was found to be a juvenile delinquent in Queen Family Court in 2010 and enrolled in the Juvenile Justice Initiative (JJI), an alternative-to-detention program run by the city’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) under an agreement with the city’s Department of Probation.

In JJI beginning in June of that year, Tabales agreed to a curfew, to attend school, to stop using marijuana and other drugs, and to not get arrested again. The Tabales family received multisystemic therapy (MST) from a psychologist at the Child Center of New York (CCNY), a private agency with an ACS contract to carry out the therapy with some of the roughly 250 juveniles enrolled in JJI every year.

Tabales was arrested for fare beating in September 2010 and tested positive for marijuana six times between July 31 and November 3. Tabales missed 19 therapy appointments. His mother missed others, and she resisted enforcing elements of the therapy. He frequently skipped school and regularly violated his curfew.

In December of that year, CCNY and ACS closed his case. This was the “most severe sanction available,” the judge in Tabales’ case wrote in a 98-page decision he issued on March 14 of this year. Probation never issued a violation of probation petition to that judge during the entire time Tabales was in JJI.

In 2011, on January 9, Tabales was indicted on 11 charges in the Bronx, including robbery and assault, which are violent felonies. On January 25, he was charged with attempted robbery and assault in Brooklyn.

Tabales and five other young men are accused of using anti-gay slurs as they allegedly beat Collao to death on a Queens street on March 12 of last year. Their charges include murder, manslaughter, gang assault, and robbery, with some charged as hate crimes. Collao, 18, was straight.

On March 1, nine months after Tabales entered JJI, probation delivered a violation petition to the judge. It sent an amended petition to the judge on April 29 of last year.

According to ACS data, 61 percent of the juveniles who enrolled in JJI in the city’s 2009 fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30, had not been rearrested one year after leaving the program.

In the 2010 calendar year, 32 percent of JJI participants had a violation of probation petition, though 20 percent of the violators were allowed to complete the program. That same year, 38 percent of JJI enrollees were rearrested during treatment and 39 percent of those rearrested completed the program.

In a report issued last year, the state agency that oversees all juvenile justice programs found that 49 percent of a cohort of juvenile delinquents, who are older than seven but less than 16 and have cases in family court, and juvenile offenders, who are in that age range but have cases in adult criminal court, were rearrested within one year. The cohort included juveniles released from all programs in 2008.

The JJI enrollees are allowed to remain living in their communities, which suggests they have committed minor crimes. The 2008 cohort includes juveniles who were detained in residential facilities and likely committed more serious crimes.

Among males in the cohort, 53 percent were rearrested within 12 months of their release. Thirty-one percent were rearrested for a felony. Altogether, 28 percent were convicted.

The Bloomberg administration has pressed to reform the city’s juvenile justice programs since 2003. Previously, the city paid for their detention in state facilities that have been criticized as ineffective and expensive. While the state still detains some city juvenile delinquents, increasingly they are housed in the city or they participate in programs like JJI.