March 5, 2013: A report released in February by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Children Now found that the rate of young people in correctional facilities on a single day has dropped from 107,637 in 1995 to 70,792 in 2010; the 2010 rate is a 35-year low.
With 11,532 youth in custody, California has the highest incarcerated youth population (271 per 100K youth population); blacks and Latino teens are over-represented.\
The report notes that the disparities in youth confinement rates point to a system that treats youth of color, particularly African American and Latinos, more punitively than similar white youth.
The U.S. juvenile justice system has relied far too heavily on incarceration, for far too long. The recent de-incarceration trend provides a unique opportunity to implement responses to delinquency that are more cost-effective and human, and provide better outcomes for youth, there families and communities.
The report suggested limiting incarceration to only those youth who have shown a "demonstrable risk" to public safety; investing in "promising" alternatives to prison; adopting best practices for supervising youth in their own communities; and incentivizing community-based alternatives, a la practices in Ohio and Illinois; and establishing small, treatment-based facilities within correctional institutions.
Written by Taylor McCulloch.