Youth Confinement Rate at a 35-Year Low

Posted February 5, 2013, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

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Richard Ross for Juvenile in Justice

Research shows Amer­i­ca’s over­re­liance on incar­cer­a­tion has not worked in reha­bil­i­tat­ing young offend­ers, cre­at­ing instead expen­sive sys­tems that fail to increase pub­lic safe­ty. While the Unit­ed States still leads the world in lock­ing up its young peo­ple, a new KIDS COUNT data snap­shot shows the nation’s con­fine­ment rate is the low­est it has been in 35 years. This pos­i­tive trend presents com­mu­ni­ties with an oppor­tu­ni­ty to pur­sue more cost-effec­tive and humane approach­es to juve­nile jus­tice, sev­er­al of which are out­lined in the new Casey Foun­da­tion report.

On a sin­gle day in 1995, U.S. cor­rec­tion­al facil­i­ties held 107,637 young peo­ple. That num­ber dropped to 70,792 in 2010. Over the same peri­od, the rate of youth in con­fine­ment decreased by 41%, from 381 per 100,000 youths to 225 per 100,000. More­over, this decline has accel­er­at­ed in recent years: From 2006 to 2010, the annu­al rate of decline was rough­ly three times faster than in the pre­vi­ous nine-year peri­od. Most states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia saw a sim­i­lar decrease.

View data on youth resid­ing in juve­nile deten­tion and cor­rec­tion­al facil­i­ties for the nation, states and the Dis­trict of Columbia.

Racial Dis­par­i­ties in Incar­cer­a­tion Continue

The five largest racial groups have also seen a decrease in con­fine­ment, with the biggest declines occur­ing among Asian and Pacif­ic Islander and Lati­no youth, accord­ing to the KIDS COUNT data snap­shot. How­ev­er, large dis­par­i­ties per­sist. African-Amer­i­can youth are near­ly five times more like­ly to be con­fined than their white peers, while Lati­no and Amer­i­can Indi­an youth are between two and three times more like­ly. These dis­par­i­ties point to a sys­tem that treats youth of col­or, par­tic­u­lar­ly African Amer­i­cans and Lati­nos, more puni­tive­ly than their white counterparts.

Down­load Reduc­ing Youth Incar­cer­a­tion in the Unit­ed States

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