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.
Sept - Dec 2013
METHODS & TOOLS
This analysis examines three alternatives:
The status quo policy
Community-based cross-sector collaborative programs
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
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.
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
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.