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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Juvenile Incarceration

Juvenile incarceration can have lasting impacts on a young person's future.
After increasing steadily between 1975 and 1999, the rate of youth confinement began declining in 2000, with the decline accelerating in recent years (Annie E. Casey Foundation 2013). In 2011, there were 64,423 detained youths, a rate of roughly 2 out of every 1,000 juveniles ages ten and older (Sickmund et al. 2013). Detained juveniles include those placed in a facility as part of a court-ordered disposition (68 percent); juveniles awaiting a court hearing, adjudication, disposition, or placement elsewhere (31 percent); and juveniles who were voluntarily admitted to a facility in lieu of adjudication as part of a diversion agreement (1 percent) (ibid.).
Youths are incarcerated for a variety of crimes. In 2011, 22,964 juveniles (37 percent of juvenile detainees) were detained for a violent offense, and 14,705 (24 percent) were detained for a property offense. More than 70 percent of youth offenders are detained in public facilities, for which the cost is estimated to be approximately $240 per person each day, or around $88,000 per person each year (Petteruti, Walsh, and Velazquez 2009).
In addition to these direct costs, juvenile detention is believed to have significant effects on a youth's future since it jeopardizes his or her accumulation of human and social capital during an important developmental stage. Studies have found it difficult to estimate this effect, given that incarcerated juveniles differ across many dimensions from those who are not incarcerated. Aizer and Doyle (2013) overcome this difficulty by using randomly assigned judges to estimate the difference in adult outcomes between youths sent to juvenile detention and youths who were charged with a similar crime, but who were not sent to juvenile detention. The authors find that sending a youth to juvenile detention has a significant negative impact on that youth's adult outcomes. As illustrated in figure 10, juvenile incarceration is estimated to decrease the likelihood of high school graduation by 13 percentage points and increase the likelihood of incarceration as an adult by 22 percentage points. In particular, those who are incarcerated as juveniles are 15 percentage points more likely to be incarcerated as adults for violent crimes or 14 percentage points more likely to be incarcerated as adults for property crimes.

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