Setting a new direction toward deep transformation, this project maps an alternative, community-based, family-focused, evidence-informed vision of youth justice in America.
Racial disparities are extreme, with youth of color greatly over-represented at every stage of the system.
Abuse is pervasive in these institutions, with validated reports of physical and sexual assault as well as reliance on inhumane methods of control such as shackles, pepper spray and extended isolation in 80% of the states.
Recidivism rates are extraordinarily high among youth who have been incarcerated, with research demonstrating that incarcerated youth are more likely to re-offend than similar youth who have not been incarcerated.
As the overall number of incarcerated youth has dropped, the annualized cost per youth continues to climb. The average annual cost for incarceration across all states is $215,000 per young person, while the annual costs per young person in a number of states has ballooned to over $500,000.
Long-term outcomes for these youth are terribly poor: lower educational attainment and employment; high rates of homelessness; behavioral and emotional problems; poor physical health; and problems in forming stable family relationships.