Driven by budget problems, more states are trying to lock up juvenile delinquents in local areas, reports USA Today. California, with a $26 billion deficit, and New York, with a $10 billion budget gap, are moving to close state youth prisons and let local governments lock up young offenders.
“There isn’t a whole lot of evidence that state-run juvenile correction systems can be anything other than very expensive, ineffective and scandal-prone,” says Bart Lubow of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Juvenile justice advocates are divided on the shift. “I’ve seen too many kids die because the state wasn’t appropriately regulating what was going on at the local level,” says Barry Krisberg of the University of California Berkeley. California counties say they cannot handle more kids, especially the violent offenders still in state youth prisons. “You’re asking them to take back kids that they’ve rejected. It’s like asking the school principal to take back the kids that they’ve expelled,” says Dan Macallair of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, an advocacy group.