Officially, there is no such thing as an “incorrigible” child in New York any longer.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill deleting the term from the state’s child welfare laws in recognition of psychosocial studies finding that young people are able to make responsible choices when given the appropriate interventions to counter the trauma that filled their formative years.
In this context, the term implies a youth is beyond correction or rehabilitation.
The word incorrigible has a long and fraught history in New York law. For at least a half-century, it’s been used in Family Court proceedings after parents, the police or school employees ask the state to supervise a youth they feel is “beyond the lawful control of a parent or other person legally responsible for such child’s care.”
If a judge finds that the youth is indeed “in need of supervision,” they may wind up in a foster home or institutional setting for up to 12 months. Others can be sent home under the supervision of probation or social services.
By signing Senate Bill 2737 on April 6, the Democrat obliterated the future use of “incorrigible” and “incorrigibility” in New York Family Court law, a term that first entered the realm in the early 1900s after it came into vogue in Chicago late in the previous century. Until now, it was used as a term to justify labeling a youth a “person in need of supervision” – one step below a juvenile delinquency designation.
“Eliminating this term from the Family Court Act will send a positive message and will assist in the efforts to achieve full equality and empowerment for girls, young women, and people of color,” according to a legislative analysis of the bill, whose primary sponsor was Democratic state Sen. Julia Salazar, who chairs the Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction.