Shutting Upstate Jails for City Kids Has Made a Fiery Bronx Bureaucrat a Host of Enemies

People upstate consider the Bronx's Gladys Carrión Satan incarnate

Young keeps a running list of each violent incident tied to the release of an inmate—so far, she has recorded 10 of them—even if they can't be tied directly to Carrión's policy changes.

Young says she met Carrión only once, in 2007: "And I asked her," she recalls, "is it better for a juvenile to be at home, where there was a bad environment and gang activity? And she said yes! There's ideology at work here." (Young has received at least $40,000 in political donations from unions since 2005, including about $13,000 from the two unions that represent juvenile facility employees.)

Carrión has no recollection of that conversation with Senator Young, but she doesn't deny the statement. In fact, she agrees that it is something she would say: "Unless a young person is dangerous, they should be in the least restrictive environment—that's the current law," she says. "We don't incarcerate people in this country for living in bad environments or for living in communities with gang activities. Why would we treat young people differently? Should we incarcerate them forever until their communities improve? Is that what we should do?"

Gladys Carrión: Bringing kids home and making enemies upstate
Willie Davis
Gladys Carrión: Bringing kids home and making enemies upstate
Tryon Boys Residential Center, now bereft of inmates, but not of union employees.
New York Office of Children and Family Services
Tryon Boys Residential Center, now bereft of inmates, but not of union employees.

Carrión's leniency, however, continues to pay dividends for her critics. The New York Post made a call for her resignation two weeks ago after the latest liberal atrocity: Carrión allowed an actual wedding to take place in an OCFS facility—for the first time in 15 years—between a 19-year-old inmate serving time for aggravated assault and his bride, who was allowed to bring her family onto the grounds. The Post tried to sneak into the secure facility for the nuptials, but guards stopped them. The paper settled for photos of an ecstatic-looking bride-to-be passing through the facility's fence with gifts in her hands.

The Voice reached the commissioner at the end of the day that the story broke, as she was driving home to the Bronx. She was sitting at a restaurant, ordering takeout. "On the one hand, I'm criticized for allowing them to have sex orgies, and on the next side, I'm criticized for allowing them to get married," she says. As usual, she's laughing, and getting revved up as she talks, but she also sounds tired. "We have this notion that just because they committed a crime, they should be in a cage or something, and not participate in the normal activities of social life? Maybe I shouldn't feed them, you know? Maybe I should give them two meals a day instead of three. I don't know. Someone said today that I was going to hire a wedding planner for the kids.

"If you talk to someone who asks you that, tell them it's not true, OK?"

edwoskin@villagevoice.com

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