We lock away too many juvenile offenders for too long and it’s costing our kids and our money. Our goal must be to provide real and lasting opportunities for change in these teens who commit crimes.
While Justice Fellowship works for juveniles to be accountable for crimes committed, we also understand that warehousing juveniles away from society, and in some cases with adults, does more harm than good. This “lock ‘em up” mentality is not producing transformation of our teens into peaceful, productive citizens.
On Monday, Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott and Congressman Walter B. Jones co-hosted a bipartisan briefing to discuss evidence-based crime reduction strategies shown to consistently prevent crime, save money, lives, and communities.
The briefing, titled, “Reduce Crime, Reduce Costs, and Improve Lives and Communities through Evidence-Based Prevention,” revealed information on the cost-effectiveness of prevention and policies that work to reduce juvenile crime and gang violence.
Speakers at the briefing included Dr. Catherine Gallagher (Director and Associate Professor, George Mason University), Gabriel Morgan (Sheriff, City of Newport News, Virginia), Tracy Velázquez (Executive Director, Justice Policy Institute) and Pat Nolan (President, Justice Fellowship).
As the briefing committee points out, much of the attention in criminal justice has been given to creating harsh punishments and facilities in response to crime. This approach has resulted in enormous costs at all governmental levels and is not sustainable.
The focus of this discussion was on how to reduce crime and its costs, to the individual and the community, by preventing crimes before they occur as opposed to waiting for the crimes to occur and then reacting to them, as we have mostly done in the past.
Pat Nolan of Justice Fellowship states:
“Studies show that sending so many juvenile offenders to a locked facility makes them MORE dangerous when they are released. It is time to put public safety ahead of our disappointment that these youngsters have messed up their lives. Most have drug addiction and mental health problems. Locking them up with other troubled kids is a recipe for trouble. They absolutely should be held accountable for their crimes, but only the truly dangerous should be locked up. Prisons are for people we are afraid of not just mad at.”
For more information visit our Juvenile Justice page.