A Georgia Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform is urging that the state’s juvenile justice system save its out-of-home facilities for the most serious offenders and strengthen community programs to reduce recidivism, reports the Associated Press. Even though the Department of Juvenile Justice spends two-thirds of its budget – $300 million this year – on out-of-home facilities, more than half of the young people in the system end up being convicted of another crime within three years, the report says.
That rate has held steady for about a decade. The council said the high rates of recidivism are unacceptable, especially given the cost to taxpayers, and made recommendations that it says will increase public safety and save money. Young people guilty of status offenses, which are crimes only because of the offender’s age, such as truancy, or misdemeanors make up about 25 percent of those in out-of home placement. Many are considered to be at low risk of committing another crime. Even 39 percent of the young people locked up in the state’s long-term secure detention facilities, called youth development campuses, for felony convictions that require at least a year of incarceration are considered low-risk, the report says.