No Place for Kids

The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration

By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

October 4, 2011

Summary

Backed with an array of research, the case against America’s youth prisons and correctional training schools can be neatly summarized in five words: dangerous, ineffective, unnecessary, wasteful and inadequate. This report highlights successful reform efforts from several states and provides recommendations for how states can reduce juvenile incarceration rates and redesign their juvenile correction systems to better serve young people and the public.

In addition to the full report, the Foundation published a No Place for Kids issue brief and a news release. As a supplement to the report, find state-level data on juvenile confinement in the Finding & Stats section below.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

States are spending vast sums of taxpayer money on incarceration when nonresidential options deliver equal or better results

According to the American Correctional Association, the average daily cost nationwide to incarcerate one juvenile offender in 2008 was $240. That translates to an average cost of $66,000-$88,000 for 9-12 months ... many times the cost of tuition and fees at a public four-year university or a two-year community or technical college. 

Findings & Stats

Recurring Maltreatment

Systemic or recurring maltreatment is identified when clear evidence has emerged showing that one or more state-funded youth corrections facilities repeatedly failed to protect youth from violence by staff or other youth, sexual assaults and/or excessive use of isolation or restraints.

Not for Violence

A 1-day snapshot showed 26% of delinquent youth in residential programs were in for violent offenses. The overall lock-up rate for violent offenses in 2007 was 12%. 

Trauma To Kids

Youth locked inside our nation's deep-end juvenile justice facilities are overwhelmingly the product of tragic circumstances, and it doesn't get better inside the sytem. 

U.S. vs. Other Nations

An international comparision found that American's youth custody rates are nearly 5 times the rate of the next highest nation. 

Statements & Quotations