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No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration

NCJ Number
Richard A. Mendel
Date Published
51 pages
This report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation examines the problem of juvenile incarceration in the United States.
This report notes that in 2007, approximately 60,500 youth were confined in correctional facilities or other residential programs each night by order of a juvenile delinquency court. These facilities included group homes, residential treatment centers, boot camps, wilderness programs, county-run youth facilities, and long-term youth correctional facilities operated primarily by State governments or private companies under contract to the States. This report examines six primary problems with States' continued reliance on large prison-like correctional facilities for young offenders. These problems include: 1) dangerousness - these institutions subject the confined youth to intolerable levels of violence, abuse, and other forms of maltreatment; 2) ineffective - the recidivism rates for youth confined to these facilities are uniformly high; 3) unnecessary - a substantial number of youth confined to these facilities pose minimal risk to public safety; 4) obsolete - a number of interventions and treatment strategies have been identified that are more effective at reducing recidivism among juvenile offenders; 5) wasteful - large amounts of money are being wasted on housing youth in facilities that are not effective at reducing recidivism; and 6) inadequate - most juvenile correctional facilities are not equipped to address the needs of many of the confined offenders. The report also identifies six priorities for reforming juvenile corrections and reducing juvenile incarceration. These priorities are: 1) limit eligibility for correctional placements; 2) invest in promising non-residential alternatives; 3) change the financial incentives; 4) adopt best practice reforms for managing youth offenders; 5) replace large institutions with small treatment-oriented facilities for the dangerous few; and 6) use data to hold systems accountable. 12 figures and 145 endnotes