A large part of our Safety agenda here at Voices for Children in Nebraska focuses on how our state treats children who come into contact with our juvenile justice system. When the first juvenile courts were established in the United States over a hundred years ago, their purpose was to rehabilitate youth, enabling them to lead full and productive lives. Ideally, this would protect both children and their communities.
Unfortunately, the juvenile justice system in the United States and here in Nebraska hasn’t always worked to rehabilitate children. A new report, No Place for Kids: the Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration, released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation , highlights what is and has long been a major obstacle in creating a juvenile justice system that serves children, and society as a whole, well. The report compiles research that shows that incarcerating youth:
- does not reduce their likelihood of committing another crime;
- does not add to public safety;
- wastes tax payer dollars; and
- expose youth to violence and abuse.
No Place for Kids urges states to invest in community-based services that have been proven to reduce the likelihood that youth will re-offend instead of incarcerating youth.
While Nebraska certainly doesn’t have the highest youth incarceration rates in the country or the same challenges other states have documented with abuse, this issue is still worthy of debate. We will break down some of the numbers and costs for Nebraska later today.