Rehabilitating Juvenile Offenders Saves Over $2 Million a Youth

Posted by Laurie Spivey, MST Services

Pay for prevention now, or pay for detention later

It just makes sense. Lock up a kid with other delinquents, not much good will come of it. Charles Dickens wrote at length about the destructive effects of prisons (called bridewells in Victorian England), workhouses and debtors prisons. In the same era, journalist Henry Mayhew documented that institutions for the poor and criminal were better at teaching crime than reforming. The notion of “schools for crime” is nothing new.

When the youth is released they often get into trouble again, using the knowledge gained in juvie and turnstiles back in.

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Topics: Cost of youth incarceration

Giving Voice to Youth Incarceration

Posted by Sophie Karpf

A simple phone call could change the way you view juvenile justice

I’ve read the reports. I know the statistics. I am acutely familiar with the disparities that permeate the juvenile-justice system.

I’ve read books, too. Books threaded throughout with personal, heartbreaking stories that attempt to bridge the gap between the abstract idea of youth incarceration and the true experience of living through it. And I’ve been touched by those stories. I’ve felt the secondhand pain of the kids and families whose lives were ripped apart by incarceration.


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Topics: Cost of youth incarceration

Time to Rethink Youth Incarceration

Posted by Sue Dee

For their sake and ours, we need to stop locking up kids

A talk at the recent Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development conference in Denver made me think of a show I love, “The West Wing.” In one of my favorite episodes, after hearing of the death of a secret-service agent, a politician wonders out loud, “Crime. Boy, I don’t know.”

We all want to live in safe communities, free of crime. As a parent, this feels like an increasingly urgent need as I send my children more and more out into public without me. Levels of risk I was willing to accept in the past are now too scary to tolerate. Before, I have ignored the news of local crime, and now, there are times I have to force myself to stop thinking about it. 

So, I join the public in the wish for a silver bullet. We want safety. We want something to guarantee it. Crime. Boy, I don’t know. What are we going to do?


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Topics: Cost of youth incarceration, Blueprints conference

The Real Cost of Treating Juvenile Offenders

Posted by Marshall Swenson

For juvenile offenders, it pays to think long-term

Communities invest in a portfolio of services. Each service has a cost and is used to meet a certain need. Think of it as any financial investment. Communities must make sure that the current service portfolio continues to meet the ever-changing requirements in their fluctuating financial environment. In recent years, with tax revenues declining, many places have had to make hard choices about where to invest money. When looking at the need to help juvenile offenders and their families, the short-term costs of prevention must be weighed against the long-term expenditure for foster care, juvenile and adult incarceration.cost_of_MST

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Topics: Cost of youth incarceration, cost effectiveness

Youth Incarceration Costs Are Enough to Give you Sticker Shock

Posted by Lori Cohen, MST Services

The Cost of Jailing Juveniles—Enough to Give You Sticker Shock 

The Justice Policy Institute recently issued a report spelling out the staggering costs of incarcerating juveniles. The institute, a nonprofit think tank dedicated to finding ways to improve the justice system and reducing the number of people imprisoned, gathered information from 46 states on what they spend on their juvenile correctional facilities. These states accounted for 93 percent of the U.S. population in 2013.sticker_shock

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform,, Cost of youth incarceration, juvenile prison costs

For Adolescent Offenders, There's No Place Like Home

Posted by Patrick Duffy, MST Services

The top 6 Reasons MST eschews out-of-home placement  

Juvenile crime is, unfortunately, a common topic in today’s news and leaves parents, police and communities struggling in their search for answers. Also unfortunate is the call by some people for “more of the same”—incarceration, residential facilities or other cocktails of the commonly used approaches that have failed to curb the problem.


Our juvenile justice system is like a bicycle stuck in one gear, and that gear is incarceration. But it just doesn't make good sense to keep building prisons and sticking youth in them for non-violent offenses. The body of evidence on successfully rehabilitating juvenile offenders emphasizes keeping adolescents with their families and in their schools. Worse still, locking kids up doesn’t make our communities safer.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform,, Cost of youth incarceration, Out of home placement

Quick Action Juvenile Justice Reforms In South Dakota

Posted by Lori Cohen, MST Services

Update: South Dakota Moves Quickly on Juvenile Justice Reform 

Often the wheels of government turn very slowly. From the inception of an idea to passage can take years of wrangling, modifications and more wrangling before it reaches consideration in the legislature.

Such was not the case in South Dakota. Having had success with an overhaul of its adult justice system, Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Chief Justice David Gilbertson were intent on improving the juvenile system. After all, it was costing $140,000 a year for each youth commitment. Annual tuition at the University of South Dakota is only $13,904. And the returns on the commitment investment were not good. Forty percent of the adolescents were back with the Department of Corrections (DOC) three years after they were released.south_dakota_legislatures

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform,, juvenile justice, Cost of youth incarceration

The High Cost of Youth Incarceration

Posted by Lori Cohen, MST Services

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. Top_12_states_per_capita

View the InfographicTake 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.

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Topics: Cost of youth incarceration

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