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NYCLU And ACLU Call For Reforms After Death Of Child In NY State Prison Facility Is Ruled A Homicide

The New York Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union called for wide-reaching reforms after today’s ruling that the death of fifteen-year-old Darryl Thompson in a juvenile prison in New York State was a homicide.

Thompson, age 15, died in November 2006 after being pinned to the floor by two guards while incarcerated at Tryon Residential Center, a Fulton County facility run by the state’s Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).

“There is a history of using force to punish and control teenagers in facilities like Tryon, which have historically been subject to inadequate oversight and little accountability,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. “This puts children in danger. It is promising that there is new leadership in OCFS, and we look forward to working with the new Commissioner – because there’s a lot that’s broken. We need to need to reimagine how juvenile justice facilities work in the state of New York.”

“Darryl Thompson’s abuse was not an isolated incident,” said Mie Lewis, staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project and the author of an ACLU report documenting abuses at juvenile prisons in New York State. “This use of force is part of a punitive culture within OCFS that sees kids as criminals first and children second. OCFS policy violates international human rights norms by allowing force to be used against children even in non-emergency situations.”

The report, released in September 2006 by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, showed that there is virtually no oversight over institutions like Tryon Residential Center. The NYCLU and the ACLU have called for a number of reforms aimed at protecting children held in juvenile facilities, including closing youth prisons in favor of smaller homelike facilities closer to children’s homes. The organizations have also urged the adoption of a bill that would create an Office of the Child Advocate to monitor OCFS facilities.

The ACLU’s report on youth correctional facilities, Custody and Control, is available at

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