Report: Juvenile-Justice Reforms Show Progress in UT, US Systems
Thursday, June 30, 2022
New research finds reports of skyrocketing youth crime are not only unfounded, but also are fueling calls for stricter punishments.
A Sentencing Project report shows the share of crimes in the U.S. committed by young people fell by more than half in the past two decades. It also decreased for all major types of offenses in 2020.
Anna Thomas is a senior project specialist and juvenile justice advocate for the nonprofit Voices for Utah Children. She said data in the report shows that juvenile justice programs in Utah and across the country show long-term improvements, including lower incarceration rates and better outcomes.
"I think we need to be really careful about characterizing short-term trends in increased misconduct as some sort of long-term vision of the future where children are just worse than they've ever been," said Thomas. "And we need to be really careful about overreacting."
Thomas said since its 2017 overhaul of its juvenile justice system, Utah has significantly reduced reliance on detention, diverting more young people into community-based programs that hold them accountable at a lower cost and avoid pushing them deeper into the juvenile-justice system.
Thomas said the trend in Utah and across the country is for fewer incarcerations and more interventions, providing children in the system with social services and mental-heath care.
"Getting kids connected with the help that they need before they get in more serious trouble and get involved in the court system," said Thomas. "There's definitely been an enormous reduction in kids who are taken out of their homes and held in some kind of secure care."
Report author Richard Mendel - a senior research fellow with The Sentencing Project - said there has been alarming news coverage and rhetoric from politicians regarding this false crime wave, and it's important for states to continue working to divert kids from the justice system, rather than returning to more tough-on-crime policies.
"This is not a moment to be panicking about youth crime," said Mendel, "especially if that panic is going to lead us to embrace solutions that we know that the evidence shows do not work."
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
The Alabama House and Senate both passed bills this week that would help people resume in vitro fertilization and provide legal protections for provid…
It's early in the season for wildfires in Nebraska, but dozens of firefighters have already been battling a large wildfire near North Platte for …
A new report finds some Missouri laws and prospective laws are perceived as discriminatory regardless of their actual intent - and it outlines some bi…
By Frank Jossi for Energy News Network.Broadcast version by Mike Moen for Minnesota News Connection reporting for the Joyce Foundation-Public News Ser…
By Claire Carlson, John Upton and Kaitlyn Trudeau for The Daily Yonder.Broadcast version by Mark Richardson for Oregon News Service for the Public …
A new Network for Public Education report grades Florida an "F" for its public school funding. As Florida lawmakers negotiate the state budget in …
As members of Congress and presidential candidates battle it out over immigration, a group of Nevada leaders and experts dedicated to advancing …
A bill in Olympia would open access to unemployment while workers are on strike, but time is running out for lawmakers to pass the legislation…