15
Dec
15

smarter, cheaper, more effective

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Smarter, cheaper, more effective approaches to juvenile justice

Juvenile detention is obsolete and ineffective in the care and treatment of youth offenders, yet we continue to spend exorbitant amounts of taxpayer money to fund them.

by Carole King, The News & Observer

December 9, 2015

The United States confines more youth in juvenile detention facilities than any other country in the world. On any given night, approximately 70,000 youth are placed in secure confinement, and two-thirds of these youth are being held for nonviolent offenses.

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1 Response to “smarter, cheaper, more effective”


  1. 1 Frank Manning
    December 16, 2015 at 2:22 am

    Excellent article. Here in Washington State we have seen great progess in implementing this smarter model for kids who have been adjudicated (convicted) of crimes. When I began volunteering at a local reform school more than 10 years ago the majority of the boys I worked with had been convicted of property crimes (auto theft, burglaries, vandalism), drug possession or dealing, or sex crimes. Today the vast majority of them have been convicted of violent crimes, such as aggravated assault, murder, manslaughter, or attempted murder, usually involving the use of a gun or other deadly weapon.

    Despite this progress in dealing with children who commit crimes, Washington leads the nation in the number of times judges send children to jail for noncriminal offenses, such as skipping school or running away. The reason for this is our truancy law, the Becca Bill, which was intended to protect kids from their own folly. Below is a link to a local news story that shows how the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and how even the most sincere politicians and judges can create a Frankenstein monster through their own stupidity and power-tripping. That these individuals are apparently quite oblivious to the damage they have caused speaks volumes about their competence to be leaders in our society. The state senator who was the original Senate sponsor of the Becca Bill has said: “Becca was put together to keep kids from getting hurt — to keep kids from getting into the criminal justice system. It was to protect the kids, not to punish them.”

    However, many researchers and legal experts say that putting children in detention for noncriminal activity does not usually improve their behavior and can actually make their problems worse. According to a 2008 publication of the American Bar Association, detaining youth status offenders “increases the possibility of their engaging in antisocial behavior,” while also limiting their access to helpful interventions they might receive at home or out in the community. Other researchers note that children who skip school or run away often have mental health problems or a history of abuse, problems difficult to deal with in a detention facility.

    Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/politics-government/article27129946.html#storylink=cpy


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