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.
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:
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.