Nearly 1/4 of Youth In Custody Held for Non-Crimes

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States send less than half as many youth to residential facilities as they did in the late 1990s, but new data from the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention show that many juveniles in out-of-home placements were not confined for serious and violent crimes, says the Pew Charitable Trusts. In 2015, 23 percent of youth in residential facilities were put there either for status offenses—which include truancy, running away, and underage drinking and would not violate the law if committed by an adult—or technical violations of supervision, such as skipping meetings. This marks a small increase since 2007, when 19 percent of confined juveniles were held for such noncriminal acts.

West Virginia leads the U.S. in removing youth from their homes for status offenses, with 43 percent of juveniles in its facilities held for such infractions. Eight other states also confine youth for status offenses at more than double the national rate of seven per 100,000 youth. Six states report holding no youth for status offenses. The proportion of youth confined for technical violations varies considerably, ranging from a igh of 46 percent in New Mexico to zero in the District of Columbia, Maine, and Vermont. Like New Mexico, the states of Alaska, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania hold juveniles for probation violations at more than twice the national rate of 27 per 100,000 juveniles. Research has generally found that confining juveniles fails to reduce recidivism and can actually worsen outcomes for some young people.

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