“Are Juvenile Detention facilities effective interventions for Youth convicted of crimes?”
Written by Development
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 00:00
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According to a report written by the Juvenile Policy Institute, “The Cost of Confinement: Why Good Juvenile Justice Policies Make Good Fiscal Sense” approximately 93,000 young people are held in Juvenile Justice facilities across the United States at a cost of almost 6 billion dollars.  Sadly, there is very little evidence to suggest that incarceration is an effective tool for changing a youth’s behavior and a great deal of evidence supporting the notion that imprisoning youth can have a detrimental effect on youth and their future.  In fact, many research indicated that juvenile prisons are simply become a training ground for adult prisons.

A number of states have successfully reduced the number of youth it incarcerated by rethinking how it finances and supports alternative options. The common denominator in all these initiatives was financial incentives for using alternatives to incarceration.  Examples of successful programs at the system level include the State of Ohio, which decreased the number of youth committed to secure treatment by 42% between 1992 and 2009 and Illinois which saved $18.7 million dollars in costs by diverting 382 youth away from prison in just 3 years.

Youth who are detained in a juvenile program are often on a fast track to a lifetime of crime. Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps’ Detention Diversion Advocacy Project is a highly successful program with a proven track record of moving youth away from juvenile delinquency. Youth learn how to use community resources and connect with adults who can help them make positive choices about their own futures.

The project target population involves juveniles in the arraignment process at Dorchester Court (Massachusetts).  Youth are assigned to DDAP by judges as an alternative to pre-trial detention.  Annually, the program serves 50 high risk, court involved minority youth, ages 11-17.  Youth remain in their communities and receive intensive, 24 hour case management from 2 DDAP youth advocates.  Since 2005, DDAP has served 226 youth with 87% completing the program, and 83% not re-offending during their time in DDAP. Detention costs $260.00 per day/youth compared to DDAP’s modest cost of $25.00 per day/per youth.
Generous supporters include Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Citizen’s Bank, Gardiner Howland Shaw Foundation, Marilyn and Mike Grossman Foundation and the Yawkey Foundation II.   We are grateful for their support in ensuring that this successful program continues in the Dorchester Court.

(For more information http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/09_05_REP_CostsofConfinement_JJ_PS.pdf)


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