Alternatives to Juvenile Incarceration

The United States juvenile justice system faces serious challenges regarding juvenile offender rehabilitation.  As current evidence suggests, incarceration is a cost ineffective form of juvenile offender rehabilitation that does not produce lower rates of recidivism, compromising the system’s stated mission to increase public safety.  More importantly, as it stands juvenile incarceration positions offenders in an unsafe and unhealthy environment that continues to put youth, specifically minority youth, at a disadvantage.

TIMEFRAME

Sept - Dec 2013

ROLE

Researcher

METHODS & TOOLS 

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Literature Review

Policy Analysis

Secondary Research

TEAM MEMBERS 

Katherine Jones

​This analysis examines three alternatives:

  1. The status quo policy

  2. Community-based cross-sector collaborative programs

  3.  Legislative reforms which fiscally  incentivizes community based alternatives. 

The need for reform in the juvenile justice system is paramount and it is desirable to replace the current practice of incarceration with a policy based on ensuring the health and safety

of juveniles in order to support successful rehabilitation. Effective implementation is vital and will remain the case for the foreseeable future if reforms are not put in place to deter the continued use of confinement as a sole means

to rehabilitation.  

BACKGROUND

The adoption of legislative reforms that re-define fiscal structures

to incentivize the use of community-based alternatives as opposed

to incarceration is a superior method to juvenile rehabilitation.  

The adoption of such legislative reforms has the potential to reduce recidivism substantially and decrease the financial wastefulness found in incarceration. Furthermore, this alternative is proven to produce high levels of equity through reduced racial stratification and adequate educational services while providing a safe and secure environment.  

MAIN INSIGHTS

METHODOLOGY

All three alternatives were assessed for their ability to meet the following policy goals:

 

recidivism - reduce the rate of recidivism of participants

efficiency - cost-effectiveness

 

safety - levels of accountability through established program rules and standards 

 

equity - specific goals of reducing racial stratification and educational disparities 

 

collaborative dimensions - structures of accountability, performance measures,

and dimensions of governance

Stable

Employment

Affordable

Stable

Housing

Healthy

Environment

Affordable Healthy

Food

Public

Benefits

Education Aid

Reliable Transit

Eliminate

Stigma

Reduce

Recidivism

A continuous cycle of collateral consequences further depreciates the lived experience of youth offenders and limits social capital. It's time to eliminate structural barriers, both social and environmental, to increase positive outcomes for all youth.