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Stakeholders' Views on the Movement to Reduce Youth Incarceration

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2014
13 pages
The National Council on Crime and Delinquency reports on the opinions of juvenile justice system stakeholders (judges, probation chiefs, probation officers, directors of child welfare agencies, prosecutors, and elected officials) regarding the decline in the rate of youth confined to secure custody in the United States between 2001 and 2011.
The latest data from the U.S. Justice Department show that the rate of youth in confinement declined 41 percent between 2001 and 2011. Since 2001, 48 States have experienced this decline. Several States cut their confinement rate for youth by half or more, and juvenile facilities have closed in 12 States. In the current study, interviews and listening sessions held with system stakeholders revealed their belief that declining youth crime and rising costs have been key drivers of this current de-incarceration trend for youth. Other drivers mentioned are reform legislation, innovative incentives built into State budgets, and the expansion of supervision strategies that focus on a youth's family relationships. The stakeholders were enthusiastic about this trend toward community supervision of youth and away from placement in a secure institution. Still, many challenges remain. Although the total number of incarcerated youth has declined in many States, the disproportion of minority youth receiving court disposition increased substantially between 2002 and 2012. In addition, communities lack adequate funding for the development of sustainable and culturally relevant community infrastructures that serve youth and their families. The study involved over 140 stakeholders, as well as the collection and analysis of longitudinal county data in measuring disposition changes between 2002 and 2012. County data came from States where focus groups were conducted with stakeholders and States that are leaders in juvenile justice policy reform. 4 figures