Alternatives to Incarceration

Despite a decline in juvenile offending over the past decade, the population of youth confined in pre-trial secure detention has steadily grown. On an average day, more than 27,000 youth are estimated to reside in locked detention centers — a number that has grown 72 percent since the early 1990s. Further, jursidictions continue to rely on incarceration for youth in spite of research demonstrating that juvenile detention has critical, long-lasting consequences for court-involved juveniles. Projects such as the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, founded in 1992, work to demonstrate that communities can safely reduce their reliance on secure detention of young people. The following resources focus on viable alternatives to detention.

CCLP Publications

  • Public Attitudes Toward Youth, Race, and Crime in Illinois [download]
    In this short movie, CCLP Executive Director Mark Soler outlines new public opinion research which presents striking new information on public opinion on the juvenile justice system, including support for rehabilitation of juvenile offenders ahead of incarceration.

CCLP Presentations

Other Resources

  • Two Decades of JDAI: From Demonstration Project to National Standard [download]
    This report captures JDAI’s successes in 110 jurisdictions across the U.S., including a 23% reduction in commitment to correctional facilities and other residential placements in its sites since the program began in 1992.

  • The Missouri Model: Reinventing the Practice of Rehabilitating Youthful Offenders [download]
    This October 2010 report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation highlights a number of achievements associated with the "Missouri model," including reduced recidivism, better educational progress, and improved transitions to the community, all of which have been achieved at a cost lower than or comparable to juvenile correctional systems in other states.
  • No More Children Left Behind Bars: A Briefing on Youth Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime [download]
    In its March 2008 study, the Harvard-based Charles Hamilton Institute for Race and Justice concludes that education- and community-based prevention programs for youth are more effective than “suppression policies” that lead to increased incarceration and prosecution of juveniles. The “No More Children Left Behind Bars” brief incorporates research from a wide area of fields and institutions including economics, educational psychology and public health, as well as the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), American Psychological Association, and Washington State Institute for Public Policy.
  • Jailing Juveniles: The Dangers of Incarcerating Youth in Adult Jails in America [download]
    A November 2007 Campaign for Youth Justice Report highlights the multiple hazards arising from incarcerating youth in adult jails, and provides policy recommendations at the state and national level to alleviate this serious problem. Citing multiple national studies completed by physicians and criminologists, the report concludes that placing youth in the adult criminal justice system increases their likelihood of re-offending. The report cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Task Force on Community Services finding that sending youth to the adult system and incarcerating youth in adult jails are “counterproductive for the purpose of reducing violence and enhancing public safety.”
  • One in One Hundred Behind Bars in America [download]
    In its January 2008 study, the PEW Center on the States concludes that policies resulting in increased rates of incarceration do not reduce recidivism, disproportionately impact minority communities, and severely impact state budgets. The report explains that nationally, more than half of released offenders return to prison within three years, either for a new crime or violating terms of release
  • Juvenile Transfer Laws: An Effective Deterrent to Delinquency? [download]
    In August 2008, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention released a bulletin concluding that laws transferring youth to adult criminal court have little or no deterrent effect on juvenile crime, and have led to more recidivism, not less.


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