For many juvenile offenders, long placements in corrections or other residential facilities fail to produce better outcomes than do alternative sanctions, a growing body of research is proving, says a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts Public Safety Performance Project. In some cases, incarceration can be counterproductive. Several states have limited which youth commitments to custody and limited the length of time they can spend there.
Pew says such changes “prioritize the use of costly facilities and intensive programming for serious offenders who present a higher risk of reoffending, while supporting effective community-based programs for others.” The report cited a study of serious adolescent offenders in Arizona and Pennsylvania that found “those in placement fared no better in terms of recidivism than those on probation.” A Texas study said youth in community-based programs had lower rearrest rates than those with similar criminal histories and demographic characteristics who were freed from state facilities. A study in Chicago’s Cook County said juveniles who experienced confinement were more likely to drop out of high school and to be incarcerated as adults than youth who were not incarcerated.