Juvenile Incarceration – Scandals and Statistics
|December 7, 2011||Posted by M. P. under Children and Family, Juvenile Delinquency, Policy, Research||
Not too long ago the juvenile justice system in Pennsylvania came under severe scrutiny after a shocking scandal involving the violation of the rights of juveniles in Luzerne County (including monetary kickbacks to judges from private detention centers). More recently, the issue of maltreatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender juveniles in juvenile detention have drawn media attention as reports of such abuse increase.
The report No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration by Richard A. Mendel from the Annie E. Casey Foundation illustrates the high cost but low return of the current juvenile justice system in the United States. Researchers found little evidence of increased public safety or reduced recidivism among juveniles after release detention, although the cost of incarceration to taxpayers was just under $90,000 per youth, per year.
Highlights from the report include,
- within 3 years of release, approximately ¾ of juveniles were rearrested;
- few juveniles are confined for serious offenses – in 2007, 12 percent of the nearly 150,000 youth adjudicated to residential programs by courts had committed aggravated assault, robbery, rape, or homicide;
- while there was a 24 percent reduction in juveniles sent to residential facilities or secure institutions between 1997 and 2007, this did not result in an increase in the juvenile crime rate during that same period (it decreased);
- recurring abuse or maltreatment was identified and documented by state and/or federal government or media investigation in 20 states since the year 2000.
According to report data, the number of youth in juvenile detention in Pennsylvania increased 15 percent, from 3,120 in 1997 to 3,618 in 2007, while the national total decreased by 25 percent from 75,406 to 60,426 during the same time period. Information about the juvenile justice system in Pennsylvania may be found at the Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission website.