FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Tuesday, July 12, 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Xakota Espinoza,
RISE for Youth Releases Recommendations for Transforming Virginia’s Juvenile Justice System
Report calls for re-investing in community-based alternatives as cost-effective key to reducing recidivism, improving public safety
RICHMOND, Va. – The Reinvest in Supportive Environments (RISE) for Youth Campaign Coalition has released a new report – “RISE for Youth: What Stakeholders Can Do to Transform Virginia’s Juvenile Justice System” – outlining steps the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), the Task Force on Juvenile Correction Centers, and community members across the state should take to keep families whole and communities safe.
“Virginia’s youth prison model doesn’t work,” said Jeree Thomas, an attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center in Richmond, Va. and manager of the RISE for Youth Campaign. “The isolation and separation that occurs in facilities is traumatizing for many youth, and it can stunt their social, emotional, and rehabilitative development in ways that are counterproductive to public safety. The Task Force has an opportunity to transform Virginia’s juvenile justice system into one that cultivates thoughtful, engaged, and law-abiding citizens.”
The report advocates for the implementation of an improved model that replaces large, outdated prisons with small (25 beds or less), home-like, therapeutic settings which allow youth to mature in socially appropriate ways while holding them accountable for their behavior. Such facilities not only cost less in the short term, but would also provide far greater value to Virginia’s taxpayers by reducing recidivism in the long run.
In 2015, the Commonwealth spent $142,000 per youth incarcerated in a juvenile prison. That same year, 78.3 percent of youth were re-arrested within 36 months of being released from a juvenile prison in Virginia. By contrast, states like Missouri that have embraced the alternative approaches outlined in the report have seen drastic improvements in test scores and re-incarceration rates.
“Community-based support is crucial for youth who are at-risk or have gone through the juvenile justice system,” said Laura Goren, Research Director of The Commonwealth Institute. “As a Commonwealth, we can provide quality, effective treatment that keeps families together.”
RISE for Youth is a statewide, nonpartisan campaign coalition whose central goal is to develop a continuum of community-based alternatives to incarceration that will keep juvenile justice system involved youth closer to their homes and support networks while making our communities safer. For more information on RISE for Youth, visit: www.riseforyouth.org and follow @RISEforYouth.
The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis provides credible, independent, and accessible information and analyses of fiscal and economic issues with particular attention to the impacts on low and moderate income persons. For more information, visit: www.thecommonwealthinstitute.org.