Is Your State Designated as a “Comeback State” for Reversing High Juvenile Detention Rates?
Date:  06-21-2013

Nine states lauded for policy revisions that keep youth out of juvenile facilities
California, Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio, Mississippi, New York, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin have been designated as “comeback states” for their effort to lower the number of youth held in juvenile detention facilities. Each of the states adopted policies that were found to be effective in achieving the dual goals of reducing the number of detained youth and increasing public safety.

Issued by National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) and Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), “The Comeback States: Reducing Youth Incarceration in the United States” explains what the states did to earn recognition:

“Six policies were identified in this report that have been adopted by states since 2001 and encourage reductions in reliance on detention and incarceration.

These changes:

  • Increase the availability of evidence-based alternatives to incarceration

  • Require intake procedures that reduce use of secure detention facilities

  • Close or downsize youth confinement facilities

  • reduce schools’ overreliance on the justice system to address discipline issues

  • Disallow incarceration for minor offenses

  • Restructure juvenile justice responsibilities and finances among states and counties.”

    The policies responsible for turning around juvenile justice in the nine states are:

  • Community alternatives

  • Restrictions on use of detention

  • Facility closings and downsizing

  • Shrinking school-to-prison pipeline

  • Not confining youths for minor offenses

  • Realigning and reinvesting statewide

    “The Comeback States” report warns:

  • On average, the nine states adopted only 4.3 of the 6 incarceration-reducing policies

  • Taxpayer and other costs of youth incarceration are still dauntingly high – annual costs of incarcerating a youth in some states easily exceed $100,000

  • Proven, cost-effective alternatives to incarceration have not been widely utilized – only an estimated five percent of eligible youth participate in such programs

  • Far too many young people are still being confined for non-serious offenses that do not threaten public safety – in 2010, 41,877 were confined for offenses such as breaking school rules, running away from home, and missing a parole hearing.
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