Pew: Less Time, Community Programs Better for Juvenile Offenders

by Todd Beamon, Newsmax.com

May 27, 2015

Community programs and lower sentences were better at reducing juvenile crime than jail—and several states have moved in this direction with innovative policies and efforts, according to an analysis of multiple studies by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The analysis compared data involving juvenile offenders in such states as Arizona, California, Hawaii, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.

The report, released last month, found overall that youths placed in community-based treatment and similar programs were less likely to commit crimes or be arrested again than those who had been placed in jail.

Noting that “in certain instances,” placing young offenders is jail “can be counterproductive,” here are some of Pew’s findings:

  • Young offenders in Maricopa County, Arizona, and Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania—when compared on 66 factors, including demographics and criminal history—those who had been jailed “fared no better in terms of recidivism than those on probation.
  • In Texas, youth in community treatment and monitoring programs had lower re-arrest rates over those who had been jailed.
  • Juveniles in Cook County, Illinois, who had been jailed were more likely to drop out of high school and go back to prison as adults than those who were not jailed.
  • Low-risk youths in diversion in Florida had lower recidivism rates than those who had been in jail.
  • And young offenders in Ohio’s jails had higher rates of returning than those who were kept for shorter periods.

“In general, research has found that juvenile incarceration fails to reduce recidivism,” the document said.

As for whether American taxpayers were getting a strong return on their incarceration dollar, Pew found that:

  • In 2013, Georgia spent two-thirds of its $300 million juvenile justice budget on jails, or $91,126 per person, while 65% of those released in 2007 were rearrested or convicted as adults within three years.
  • That same year, Hawaii spent $199,323 on every jailed youth, yet three of every four released between 2005 and 2007 were rearrested or convicted within three years.
  • In 2012, California spent an average of $179,400 on every juvenile in prison, though 54% of those released in fiscal 2007 and 2008 were back in jail—juvenile or adult—within three years.

Many states, according to the report, are cutting the number of juveniles placed in jail or are lowering sentences.

Hawaii, for instance, does not jail youths for misdemeanor offenses, while Kentucky no longer places misdemeanor offenders and low-level felons with their states’ Department of Juvenile Justice, the report indicated.


Todd Beamon is the associate editor for Newsmax Media Inc.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Softengine performing “Something Better”


Weather Report

85° and Partly Cloudy; Wind, Lightning and Rain at Night


4 Responses to “better”

  1. 1 Frank Manning
    June 2, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Great report, Dan. Glad to see some people are finally realizing that harsh punishment of kids who commit crimes is counterproductive, wasteful, and stupid.

    Here in Washington State over the past 10 years or so, we have reduced our population of incarcerated juveniles by more than half, relying more on probabtion and community supervision of youthful offenders. A couple of years ago the state closed one of its reform schools for boys, as our Juvenile Rehabiltation Administration adopted a policy of locking up only the most violent offenders. We don’t put kids in adult prisons, but other states, notoriously Florida and Indiana, still do. Let’s hope that all states will soon be eliminating that practice once and for all.

  2. June 3, 2015 at 3:18 am

    I don’t know about Florida or other States but it seems that even Indiana closes some of its juvenile facilities, based on what I have read on this subject. South Bend Juvenile Facility, where the young Chase has spent a few months, was close almost two years. Last year, it was the turn of their Boot Camp of Camp Summit to be closed.


    Even at Pendleton; the average number of prisoners has decreased, so that in 2013, she didn’t house kids over half of its nominal capacity. I cannot say if this is related to a deliberate policy towards young people in difficulty, a policy to reduce the costs or simply a decline in youth criminality, but this seems to me an encouraging sign.

    • 3 Frank Manning
      June 3, 2015 at 3:41 pm

      It seems the reasons for this are all three that you mention, not just in Indiana and here in Washington, but across the country as a whole. First, after a couple of decades of throwing the book at juvenile offenders, those responsible for these policies are finally realizing that such harshness just doesn’t work. In fact, it has been totally counteproductive. Second, our experience here in Washington was that the costs of incarcerating large numbers of kids, operating the reform schools, and paying for the large staffs needed to run the facilties were becoming unsustainable. The taxpayers were demaning relief and rejecting a number of tax increases (we hold a referendum on just about every tax increase enacted by the legislature, and the voters have repealed most of them). Finally, it is a fact that juvenile crime has declined significantly in the lasrt decade in all states. And the big spike in youth crimes by “superpredators” predicted by many law-and-order fanatics never materialized. Turned out to be just another big lie to scare the sheeple into accepting sociopathic policing policies.

  3. 4 matt
    June 3, 2015 at 6:26 am

    As with the “stuff” they post to the internet, kids think there is a certain level of anonymity to their crimes/activities, and I think community service shows them that society is watching and disapproving of their actions. Some may call it public shaming, but it doesn’t have to be, and either way, isn’t that better than locking them up, where they can continue in their social isolation and blame it all on society? Just my thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: