Kids get into trouble. Some kids get into a lot of major trouble. They know right from wrong, but commit crimes anyway. So what to do with them? We want to be fair to these children by giving them the best shot at succeeding. Their success is ours, too. Stopping their crime will make all of us safer.
But as it is, our juvenile-justice system operates like a bike that can’t get out of first gear. That gear being incarceration. But is that right answer?
You may be wondering just how bad the situation is. So a few kids get sent away, big deal. But take a step back. Without question, incarcerating youth costs too much and makes them more likely to commit future crimes. Wouldn’t it make more sense to switch gears.
Provide drug treatment, mental-health services, job training. And very importantly, give parents and caregivers the tools to change their children’s behavior.
Take a look at this infographic that shows the costs of youth incarceration. Sometimes seeing makes it easier to believe. Going state by state, it’s pretty staggering how many juveniles end up in facilities and the price tag associated with putting them there.