Taxpayers spend hundreds of dollars a day—in some places, hundreds of thousands of dollars a year—to confine youths, says the Justice Policy Institute. To account for varying lengths of stay across different jurisdictions and research that indicates that longer stays in secure confinement
do not reduce recidivism, the institute calculated the estimated cost of placing a young person out of his or her home for three months, six months,
and a full year.
The institute contends that “confinement should be for the shortest period of time possible to reduce harm to the youth and save money. Of 46 states or jurisdictions that reported data, the average costs of the most expensive confinement option for a young person out of his or her home are $407.58 per day, $36,682 per three months, $73,364 per six months, and $148,767 per year. Thirty?three states and jurisdictions reported spending $100,000 or more on the most expensive confinement option for a young person. State costs vary, reflecting choices in how juvenile justice systems are designed.