A national report released this week shows incarceration rates for juveniles are falling across the country. California’s juvenile system locked up 10,000 kids in 1996 but only has 1,500 currently incarcerated today. This is a dramatic drop, coinciding with drops in juvenile crimes and a dramatic shift in juvenile justice philosophy.
Punishment seems to be the primary goal of adult corrections in the United States. For juveniles, however, the emphasis is on rehabilitation. The belief is that kids can be reformed and turn from criminal or delinquent behavior to living productive lives. The move away from punitive juvenile justice is not only better for the kids, it’s better for the budget.
According to this review, California has closed 6 juvenile facilities since 2003, generating up to $40 million in savings through job cuts. The same trend is being seen across the country as budgets are tight and juvenile justice philosophies change.
More so in the juvenile justice realm than the adult system, judges and courts are willing to consider alternatives to incarceration at every intersection. If there is a way to keep a child from going to a detention facility, they will make it happen.
Fifteen years ago, that wasn’t the case. Back then, getting “tough on crime” meant locking people up, adults and juveniles alike. The scare tactic, they hoped, would prevent crime from the public and prevent the defendant from acting out again. Luckily, the system has come around since then.
Now, juveniles are far more likely to serve some sort of probation or have another informal disposition applied. Even if they are adjudicated (found guilty), there’s a good chance the juvenile won’t be locked up except for in extreme cases.
If you are a juvenile facing criminal charges or you are a parent of a child who finds themselves in trouble with the law, I can help. Whether it’s a simple status offense or an actual serious criminal charge, contact our attorneys today.
Together we can help you make sense of the sometimes confusing juvenile court system and improve the chances that your child won’t have to serve time.