The Juvenile Justice Worker Protection Act (A.2129/S.4940), sponsored by Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Queens) and Senator Catharine Young (R-Olean), will soon be headed to Governor Cuomo's desk for signing, having passed the Senate yesterday and the Assembly last week.
The legislation is in response to the horrific murder of non-profit juvenile justice worker Renee Greco by a youth in her care in Lockport, New York in June 2009, and the shooting of Rochester police officer Anthony DiPonzio in January 2009 by a youth who went AWOL from a non-profit juvenile justice facility, and would require private juvenile justice programs and facilities to comply with the New York State Workplace Violence Prevention Law. The law requires programs and facilities to assess their workplaces for risks of potential violence and establish workplace violence prevention programs tailored to their specific work environment.
Assemblyman Lancman, Chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Workplace Safety, issued a report last year on workplace violence in the state's juvenile justice system. Among other things, the report found that private juvenile justice employees generally lack the tools and training needed to prevent and protect themselves against violence.
"Nationally and in New York State, youth in the publicly operated juvenile justice system are being shifted to programs run by private organizations, and the employees at these organizations merit the same protections against workplace violence as public employees currently enjoy," said Assemblyman Lancman.
"Violence should never be tolerated, yet it is rampant in many community based facilities, said Senator Catharine Young (R-Olean). "Innocent people are being viciously assaulted and even murdered. We need safeguards for staff and residents at all OCFS licensed facilities before more people are hurt and lives are lost.”