Friday, August 14, 2009

Reforming Juvenile Justice

An editorial in today's New York Times discusses a successful effort to reduce the number of children sent to detention facilities:

Closely supervising young offenders, instead of incarcerating them, did not increase the youth crime rate or the risk to public safety. Similar programs have since been adopted in 110 jurisdictions in 27 states and the District of Columbia. According to a new study from the foundation, the results have been astonishing: Many jurisdictions have managed to cut the number of children in detention by half or more; in many, the youth crime rate has declined. . . .

Communities that have been most faithful to the new model have registered the most impressive results, with some districts locking up only about a quarter of the number of youngsters as before. These efforts show that it is possible to treat children humanely without compromising public safety and deserve to be replicated nationwide.

I don't know this work well, but this is a critically important issue.

The most important predictor of whether a child will become a "delinquent" is whether this child has been sent to detention.

This work is sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and more information is here (use the headings in the left-hand column to navigate this information). See discussion of results here.

Again, focusing on education and pedagogy as a solution to "educational" problems is, I believe, a recipe for defeat.

2 comments:

Liz Ryan said...

Thanks for this important post!

I agree that it is a critically important issue and there is legislation pending in Congress now to promote this type of reform.

Please ask your readers to urge Congress to not go “home for the holidays” until they pass juvenile justice reform legislation!

Click here to send a letter to Congress:
http://criminaljustice.change.org/actions/view/support_juvenile_justice_reform.

Thanks!

Liz Ryan
Campaign for Youth Justice

James Johnson said...

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