The tab for holding juvenile offenders in secure state facilities averages $221 per day per youth over a stay of 14 months. That amounts to almost $100,000 per kid. The result? Seventy-four percent of those confined in state facilities are convicted of another offense within three years.
Writes Mike Thompson in the latest edition of the Jefferson Policy Journal:
We now know that, for most juvenile offenders, community-based placements are far more effective. This is especially true for youth with non-criminogenic health needs, such as a mental illness or substance abuse issues. While specific data varies, recidivism rates generally are 50 to 75 percent lower for youths placed in proven programs closer to home than those for state lockups. And these community-based placements obtain these far better recidivism rates at a much lower cost, as low as $10 to $15 per day.
Other states have shown that removing many juvenile offenders from lockup facilities and treating them in community settings can save taxpayers money while turning the adolescents’ lives around. Maybe Virginia should take a closer look.