Nation Shifts Away From Costly, Unnecessary Confinement

Posted January 9, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog nationshiftsawayfromcostly 2017

Since 2007, the rate at which youth are placed in juve­nile deten­tion, cor­rec­tion­al and res­i­den­tial facil­i­ties has steadi­ly declined — falling 44% nation­wide. Dur­ing this same time frame, juve­nile deten­tion rates have dropped in every state as well as the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, and the total num­ber of youth resid­ing in deten­tion has also declined.

On a giv­en day in 2015, 48,000 youth under the age of 21 were detained, incar­cer­at­ed or liv­ing in res­i­den­tial facil­i­ties. This pop­u­la­tion count has fall­en by 6,105 since 2013 and 57,012 in less than two decades.

Juve­nile con­fine­ment rates and pop­u­la­tions totals have also dropped across all racial and eth­nic groups, though sig­nif­i­cant dis­par­i­ties between these groups exist. For instance: Com­pared to their white peers, African-Amer­i­can youth are five times more like­ly to be detained. This risk is also three times high­er for Amer­i­can Indi­an youth.

Juve­nile lock up is expen­sive, inef­fec­tive and — in many cas­es — unnec­es­sary. Com­mu­ni­ty- and home-based alter­na­tives for juve­niles can yield equal or bet­ter out­comes at a frac­tion of the cost, all while main­tain­ing pub­lic safe­ty, accord­ing to research.

Access juve­nile jus­tice data on the KIDS COUNT Data Center:

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