Youth placement is overused [Commentary]
Maryland should look to more community-based programs to help juveniles
By Catherine E. Pugh
July 24, 2014
As a senator, public safety is at the top of my mind. But we have seen time and again that youth incarceration does not improve public safety. In fact, it is a failed experiment. To really make communities safer, we should invest in them, not in jails, prisons and residential centers. …
… Safely Home details what that support would look like and also provides data about how working intensively with youth with complex needs in the context of their families and communities as opposed to the isolation of a residential bed or jail cell has worked. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation Center published a series of short briefs that looked at thousands of youth in Youth Advocate Programs’ community-based alternatives for justice involved youth from across the country, including one right here in Baltimore. The children in these programs were high-risk youth and they have very complex needs. Yet, nearly all of them succeeded in the program with 86 percent remaining arrest free and 93 percent still living in their communities, not back in a facility. One example from a separate study that looked at 1,851 youth found that 95 percent of youth studied were still living in the community six to 12 months after discharge from YAP’s non-residential community-based program.
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