Ten months ago, three teenaged boys who had escaped from a group home in Brooklyn were arrested for the violent assault and rape of a woman in Manhattan. The boys had been placed in the home as part of a program run by New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services, which had been seeking alternatives to formal detention facilities for troubled youngsters caught up in the juvenile justice system.
The home in Brooklyn, one of several dozen overseen by ACS, had been placed on “heightened monitoring status” because of earlier concerns about the home’s ability to keep the youngsters secure and the public safe.
ProPublica soon filed a formal Freedom of Information request to ACS, seeking, among other things, records of any other homes on “heightened monitoring status,” as well as the agency’s database chronicling any arrests or escapes of youngsters and any assaults or injuries suffered by staff or residents at the homes. The aim was straightforward: The records could be critical to gauging the success and public safety impact of the program, known as “Close to Home.” Continue...