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Comeback and Coming-from-Behind States: An Update on Youth Incarceration in the United States

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2013
18 pages
After reviewing the "Comeback States" report on improvements in States' reductions in youth incarceration achieved during the 2001-2010 period, newly available data on youth confinement for 2011 are presented.
Although the "Comeback States" report presented data that show States are reducing their confinement of youth, it also argued for additional reductions in youth incarceration. Reasons for further reductions include the high human and taxpayer costs of youth incarceration, the under-use of alternatives to incarceration for youth, the continuing widespread incarceration of youth for minor offenses, and the below-average adoption of incarceration-reducing policies by more than half of the 50 States. Updated data for 2011 found that significant additional reduction in youth confinement occurred in that year, both nationally and in the vast majority of States. The pace of reduction in the number of youth confined nationwide accelerated from a 32-percent reduction for the 2001-2010 period to a 41-percent reduction for the 2001-2011 period. The leading-edge trend in confinement reduction in the nine "comeback" States also continued through 2011. Four States were identified as "coming-from-behind" States as measured by three performance indicators: reductions in youth confinement over time being less than half of the nationwide average; current population-adjusted rates of youth confinement being above current population-adjusted rates of youth confinement above the nationwide average; and adoption of at least three incarceration-reducing Statewide policies. These four States - Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming - have recently adopted policies that may enable them to improve their performance and achieve significant reductions in youth confinement in the years to come. 4 tables, 4 figures, 26 notes, and appended supplementary data