Tear down more state youth prisons, and spend the money saved on community-based alternatives to incarceration. Doing so, juvenile justice advocates tell the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, would reduce youth crime and recidivism, keep nonviolent offenders from being incarcerated, save states millions of dollars and help the juvenile justice system live up to its mission to rehabilitate, not warehouse, youths. The Obama administration asking Congress to fund a $30 million initiative known as “Smart on Juvenile Justice.” It is designed to help states decrease youth incarceration while increasing community-based alternatives to locking kids up and reducing racial and ethnic disparities.
“The Smart on Juvenile Justice Initiative will drive nationwide system reform, guiding states toward a developmentally informed approach that maximizes cost savings and strategically reinvests those savings into efforts that improve outcomes for youth,” said Robert Listenbee, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The Obama administration has funded a pilot of the program, rolled out last year in Georgia, Hawaii and Kentucky, working with private foundations and the Pew Charitable Trust’s Public Safety Performance Project. The states, each of which received $200,000, worked to divert youths from the juvenile justice system, provide community-based alternatives, decrease correctional spending, and improve public safety.