Striking ‘incorrigible’… passed the NY Senate vote

Great news for New York State! The bill which would eliminate the use of the antiquated word “incorrigible” as a subcategory of PINS (person in need of supervision) in the state’s Family Court Act, passed the State Senate on July 22, 2020. It’s a decades-old law that governs the functioning of the state’s juvenile justice system. “This is a term that, at least, implicitly and in practice singles out girls of color for not matching expectations of stereotypical “feminine” behavior and labels them as “uncorrectable” or unreformable”.” Information on the bill, sponsored by Senator Julia Salazar of Brooklyn and advocated for by Girls for Gender Equity – GGE and others can be read here: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2019/s7930

“This is a term that, at least, implicitly and in practice singles out girls of color for not matching expectations of stereotypical “feminine” behavior and labels them as “uncorrectable” or unreformable”

Young women from Girls for Gender Equity hold signs, one of which reads: Encourageable not Incorrigible
Young women at the NY State Senate hold signs, one of which reads: “Encourageable not Incorrigible”. Courtesy: Girls For Gender Equity

Next steps for Senate BillS7930 that eliminates the stigmatizing use of the term “incorrigible” are: to pass the State Assembly; then to be delivered to Governor Cuomo; and finally for the Governor to sign (or veto) it.

In the article “New York Moves To Eliminate Language in State Law Labeling Youth ‘Incorrigible'” in The Imprint, Youth and Family News, Michael Fitzgerald follows the path of language with Incorrigibles back to Ella Fizgerald’s intake records from 1933.

While we advocate this change in NYS law, we continue to work to reclaim the term on the behalf of incorrigible girls and women everywhere.