NYC Succeeding With A Better Approach to Juvenile Justice
Further evidence that the country is finally coming to its senses: the punitive approach to juvenile justice that fails to recognize the difference between children and adults is giving way to a philosophy that reduces recidivism without damaging kids.
About a year ago, New York City started an alternative sentencing program called the Juvenile Justice Initiative. Instead of locking kids up in residential "treatment" centers or detention facilities, nonviolent offenders are sent home where a therapist provides intense intervention to restore order to the family. The program "helps parents learn how to supervise and manage their adolescents so that they act responsibly instead of engaging in dangerous behaviors," according to a city official.
After a year, there is evidence that the program works:
The city said that in the year since the program began, fewer than 35 percent of the 275 youths who have been through it have been rearrested or violated probation. State studies found that more than 80 percent of male juvenile offenders who had served time in correctional facilities were rearrested within three years of their release, usually on more serious charges.
The program takes kids who are a drain on society and makes them productive, saving huge tax dollars in the process: [more...]
[A]t roughly $17,000 per child, such in-home therapy programs cost a fraction of the annual expense of keeping a child in secure detention, which can be $140,000 to $200,000.
In fact, the financial incentive is such that both the city and state are rapidly moving away from residential detention. Gladys Carrión, the commissioner of the state’s Office of Children and Family Services, recently announced that she would close six nonsecure facilities, a cut that will save the state $16 million a year.
Kudos to any politician who decides to be smart on crime instead of posturing as tough on crime. It's about time.
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