National Efforts

by Billy Dee

We join a host of other local and national efforts to reform youth incarceration. Activists from New York to California have been working to close juvenile prisons and provide community-based alternatives. Here are a few of the successes:

Missouri: In 1983 MO replaced its juvenile prison with in-home community rehabilitation programs and the recidivism rate dropped to 7% at a cost of $28,000 per juvenile- a 40% drop in recidivism for 1/3 of the cost in Illinois.

Alabama: Initially AL was spending almost 75% of its DYS budget on incarcerated youth. With the assistance of the Southern Poverty Law Center and JDAI commitments were cut and a new grant process for community-based alternatives was developed in 2009-2010. 

California: CA has had a very high incarceration rate, which led to legal action and more youth now being treated in community-based programs. This change also created the need for budget realignment. CA’s youth prison population has dropped almost 88% from 1996 to 2010.  

District of Columbia: DC was required to close their Oak Hill institute in 2004 and between 2005 and 2009 DC saved over $18.5 million by reducing the population at Oak Hill. 

Florida: FL started its Redirection Project in 2004 to divert troubled youth from residential placement into family-focused evidence-based treatment options, by probation reform, and JDAI. Florida’s total number of juvenile arrests dropped by 21% from 2005 to 2010. 

Kansas: KS was able to close two facilities between 2008 and 2009 which saved approximately $1.9 million in FY 2009 and $3.7 million in FY 2010. Juvenile arrest rates also dropped close 13% from FY 2006 to FY 2009.
New York: NY has been able to downsize and close 18 juvenile facilities since 2007, saving an estimated $58 million. NY’s fiscal realignment through 2011-12 designated $8.3 million for community-based programs. Youth referred to facilities declined by 73% from 2000 to 2011. 

Ohio: In 1994 OH started RECLAIM, a program to divert youth from state-run facilities to community-based alternatives. OH’s DYS population dropped 40% from FY 2002 to FY 2010. 

Texas: TX’s residential population declined 63% from FY 2006 to FY 2010. The Legislature passed a reform bill that provided $57.8 million to counties to assist with youth who had previously been in TYC facilities.