Juvenile justice news from my own backyard.
New York City’s Independent Budget Office has produced a report on the rising cost of detaining the city’s youth. In 2003 the city spent $202 million on juvenile justice services; that total shot up 24 percent to $251 million for the current fiscal year. The increase is largely due to a 42.3 percent increase in detention costs, which in turn is related to a rise in “police admits,” the decision to send troublemakers to jail rather than family court. Detention costs account for more than 75 percent of the city’s spending on juvenile justice–which, naturally, means that programming and after-care and alternatives to incarceration are getting the shaft. “Programs that provide alternatives to detention and placement can bring both immediate and long-term cost savings,” the report’s summary concludes.
Enter the Juvenile Justice Coalition of the Correctional Association of New York. “This is a very significant report because it helps support our advocacy efforts to redirect resources from costly and wasteful youth detention to community-based alternatives to incarceration,” director Mishi Faruqee explained in an e-mail blast. “New York City and New York State have implemented a number of new initiatives to reduce youth detention and placement. However, these programs will only yield cost savings if the city and state downsize the juvenile justice system by closing juvenile jails and prisons.”