Youth Behind Bars: The high cost of kids in the adult criminal justice system
- School-to-Prison Pipeline
- Child Welfare Crossover
- Mental Health
- Juvenile Defense
- Juvenile Competency
- In-Home Care Incentive
- PREA, Isolation, Restraint
- Youth in Adult System
- Juvenile Life Without Parole
- Youth Reentry
Thousands of children have been funneled into Michigan’s adult prison system due to a series of harsh “tough on crime” laws on perceived youth violence.
Youth Behind Bars: Exploring the Impact of Prosecuting and Incarcerating Kids in Michigan’s Criminal Justice System documents how Michigan’s outdated approach to youth justice does little to rehabilitate children, protect public safety, or wisely invest taxpayer dollars.
The report has found that “tough on crime” youth policies are ineffective, unfair, and cost taxpayers a lot of money. The report recommends raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18, allowing 17-year olds to access rehabilitative juvenile services.
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What can You do about it?
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Prosecuting youth as adults is harmful to children, threatens public safety, and is expensive.
- Youth are more likely to be physically attacked, sexually assaulted and attempt suicide than youth in the juvenile justice system.
- Youth incarceration actually increases violent crime. National research found that youth exiting the adult system are 34 percent more likely to reoffend, reoffend sooner, and escalate to more violent offenses than their counterparts in the juvenile justice system.
- Incarcerating youth is expensive. The average cost of housing a prisoner in Michigan is about $34,000 a year, with an average sentence served of 4.3 years. A young person convicted in the adult system can expect to earn 40% less over their lifetime, which translates to a loss of state tax revenue.
- An adult conviction has lifelong consequences, including significant barriers to housing, employment, and education.
Top Recommendation: Raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18, allowing 17-year olds to access rehabilitative juvenile services.
- Michigan is one of only 10 states that automatically prosecute 17-year olds as adults.
- In the last ten years, 95% of all the youth entering adult jail, prison, or probation were 17 years old at the time of their offense – totaling 19,124 young people.
Most 17-year-olds entering the criminal justice system were charged with non-violent offenses.
- Nearly 60% of 17-year-olds were charged with non-violent offenses that did not include a weapon.
- 58% of those entering the system at age 17 had no prior juvenile record.
Most youth in the system are behind in school and suffer from severe behavioral health needs. Adult probation and prison are not designed to address these needs.
- 48% of 17-year olds entered prison, jail, or adult probation with a 10th grade education level or lower.
- 51% of 17-year-olds entering prison had a substance abuse issue; 24% had alcohol abuse issue; and 23% received mental health treatment prior to entering prison.
It’s time for Michigan to get “smart on crime” by implementing evidence-based approaches to youth crime.
Posted by MCCD on Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 @ 2:00AM
Categories: Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, Raise the Age, Youth in Adult System
Tags: justice reform, juvenile delinquency, juvenile justice, juvenile justice system, Michigan, United States, Youth in the Adult system