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Decreasing Youth Incarceration May Have Several Benefits, Report Says

A new report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows new trends in the effects of juvenile detention. The report calls residential treatment of minors wasteful and says jailing fewer juveniles does not necessarily result in more youth crime. Around 20 percent of youth that go through the detention centers in Kentucky are there for minor offenses like truancy or running away, said Tara Grieshop-Goodwin, deputy director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.“We need to make sure we have sufficient alternatives in place for dealing with the youth, for helping hold the youth accountable but also putting them on the right track to become a successful and contributing member of our society,” she said.The report researches several states that have programs in place to detour that population to more appropriate resources. Florida, for example, provides family-treatment through its Redirectional Program and the results make it less likely that a youth will be rearrested. It also saved taxpayers $41.6 million over four years by reducing recidivism. But other programs and services cost money to run.“In Missouri they really shifted the way they handle youth detention and they have smaller facilities and they’re really reserving detention for serious offenders. So I think we do have some states that we should be aspiring to that have reduced the number of youth incarcerated and they have had success in dropping the juvenile crime rate,” said Grieshop-Goodwin.It costs around $150 a day to keep a minor detained in Kentucky, she said. That’s more than the report estimates nation-wide. Other data shows how education and options are affected later in life for those incarnated youth. And it further gives examples of where decreasing incarcerated youth does not increase youth crime.Greishop-Goodwin said some Kentucky counties have begun discussing possible changes to the system and she recommends the state should look to other states for models.Click here to see a copy of the full report and data.

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