Across the U.S., depleted coffers have prompted state and local officials to cut programs intended as alternatives to the mere incarceration of juvenile lawbreakers, reports the New York Times. Tennessee legislators voted last month to close a wilderness activity camp. In Louisiana, a boot camp aimed at deterring young people from crime has been shut down. In California, alternative facilities focused on counseling are threatened from San Jose to Sacramento.
Over two decades, South Carolina upgraded its juvenile justice system, adding counseling and education and cutting the repeat offender rate. New facilities have extricated the state from a federal lawsuit brought in response to once appalling conditions. Now, the improvements are being undermined by the economic recession. In the last year, the state has cut the financing for its juvenile justice system by one-fifth, forcing 285 layoffs and the closure of several facilities, including five group homes that focused on counseling.