Putting a new spin on custody: new initiative in New Jersey places officers on bikes.

Author:Beyer, Howard L.
Position:Juvenile Justice News

The New Jersey Training School (NJTS), located in Monroe Township, is putting a new spin on custody. As a result of a new initiative, relationships between juvenile officers and residents have dramatically improved, while response time to emergencies has been cut significantly. How are they doing it? On bicycles.

For more than a year, juvenile correctional officers who volunteered for the assignment have been crisscrossing the 100-acre NJTS campus on its paved roads and walkways--and for emergencies, crossing through the grass--on bicycles. The Campus Patrol has provided greater access to the various facilities that are spread across the campus, including a school (complete with a gym and a pool), an industrial building for vocational trades, a hospital, a chapel, separate visit and dining halls, a community center, two greenhouses, an administration and central command building, nine housing units, a power house, storerooms and other facilities. Needless to say, patrolling the facility is a formidable task.

The New Jersey State Reform School, as it was known, was established in 1865 through legislation following a plea from Gov. Joel Parker to establish a facility for youths who had broken the law. Parker requested a facility for juvenile males that would, "soften his pliant nature rather than render him more obdurate." Then, like now, the facility focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment. In October 1867, the first juveniles came to what would later become the New Jersey Training School. Nearly 140 years later, the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) continues to take innovative steps that expand on that original concept of focusing on education, vocational training and the personal growth of each youth.

About the Agency

Created in 1995 to bring together services for delinquent youths, JJC is the single state agency responsible for providing juvenile rehabilitation and parole services. JJC cares for New Jersey's high-risk and increasingly vulnerable youths. The agency has a unique and pivotal opportunity to redirect the lives of the youths in its custody. JJC operates six secure care facilities and 22 residential community homes and day treatment facilities. In addition, the agency is responsible for parole and transitional services for youths when they return home from JJC custody.

The agency is responsible for more than 2,000 youths, comprising approximately 1,000 committed youths, 300 probationers and 800 juvenile...

To continue reading