Holding youth accountable for their actions is important. And so is setting the groundwork so that they can become productive adults. That’s why a wide range of Virginians are embracing the need to transform the state’s juvenile justice system, and why the General Assembly’s actions this session to improve outcomes and reduce recidivism for youthful offenders are worth celebrating.
The need to get youth out of the state’s failed prisons is urgent. Every month that youth are held in the state’s prisons increases the chances that they will be re-arrested, no matter the original crime or other risk factors. That’s a counter-productive system. And the impact does not fall on all communities equally. Youth with mental illness, black youth, and youth who are from high-poverty communities are far more likely than other youth to be held in the state’s failed youth prisons.
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