Custody and Control

Document Date: September 25, 2006

When they restrain kids. . . [t]hey’d have rug burns all over their bodies. . . . They hold your arms back and they purposefully push your face in the rug. They have their knee in your back and your arms all the way back. I’ve been restrained before so I know.

—Stephanie Q., incarcerated at age 16

There’s only one teacher, but everyone’s in a different place, so it’s not good. They try to give you a book and tell you to study out of it.
—Alicia K., incarcerated at age 15

I asked to talk to the ombudsman probably every day. They [facilities staff] said, “OK,” but it never happened. It’s my right to call but they wouldn’t let me talk to him. Or the other thing they’d say is “Tell me what you’re going to tell him.”
—Felicia H., incarcerated at age 17

Tell your story! If you or a loved one have been held at a girls’ facility in New York State, email us with your experiences. Remember to let us know whether we can post your story to the website or whether you would like to keep it confidential.

Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union take the first in-depth look at New York’s highest security juvenile prisons for girls. The findings are disturbing: “delinquent” young girls from backgrounds of intergenerational poverty, many of whom have survived abuse and trauma, are locked up and again abused and neglected, this time at the hands of the state. This report documents the excessive use of a face-down “restraint” procedure, incidents of sexual abuse, and inadequate educational and mental health services.

Learn More
> Report: Custody and Control (full text)
> Summary and Recommendations (En Español, PDF)
> Fact Sheet

> Eye-Witness Account: Carrie Chalmers
> Video Testimony: Juanita Crawford
> Opinion: Mie Lewis on (, off-site)
> Audio: Mie Lewis on NPR (WNYC, off-site)
> Audio: Mie Lewis on Detention Conditions for New York Girls (HRW, off-site)
> ACLU/HRW Statement (Sept. 25, 2006)
> More from Human Rights Watch on Custody and Control (off-site)

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.