Study finds flaws in how states run juvenile justice system – St George News


Stock image | Photo by Михаил Руденко/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE- America locked up nearly a quarter of a million children in 2019, according to The Sentencing Project’s “Too Many Closed Doors” report.

The Utah Legislature passed a series of bills in 2017 to reform the state’s juvenile detention system, location and date unspecified | Photo by Jan Andersen/Adobe Stock, St. George News

The report found that in the past, policymakers have relied on one-time annual counts, which end up being about 5 times lower.

Josh Rovner, senior advocacy associate for The Sentencing Project and author of the report, said states looked at the wrong numbers and the difference was stark.

“On one day in 2019, there were approximately 36,000 children who were in youth facilities,” Rovner reported. “And the actual number of children who were in facilities during the year was closer to 240,000, and that’s actually an undercount.”

The research also called for better data collection focusing on annual admissions rather than one-day counts, to paint a clearer picture of the number of minors detained, interned, imprisoned and imprisoned in a year. .

The report found that detained children find it difficult to return to school or home, and are even more likely to be arrested again in the future. Rovner added that an increased police presence in low-income neighborhoods of color results in a disproportionate number of arrests and detentions for youth of color.

“Overall, one in four children who are sent to court are initially detained,” Rovner pointed out. “Now for young white people it’s one in five. For black and Latino youth, it’s closer to 30%. And it’s not related to the seriousness of the offence.

The research also suggested that states redirect funding for juvenile corrections to alternatives to detention, including mental health counseling, violence prevention, and restorative justice.

Written by MARK RICHARDSON, producer for Utah News Connection.

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