Report: Number of Youth Incarcerated in US Much Higher Than Documented
Monday, April 4, 2022
Young people in the U.S. were incarcerated in juvenile facilities 240,000 times in 2019, according to a new report, and current methods significantly underrepresent how many are in detention.
Youth-incarceration data is typically measured through a one-day count in late October. The Sentencing Project report estimates at least 80% of the young people incarcerated are excluded from the count, most prevalent for youth who have been arrested and detained but have not had a court hearing.
Report author Josh Rovner - senior advocacy associate for the project - said getting the data right is critical, especially for youth of color disproportionately impacted by the juvenile-justice system.
"Overwhelmingly, these are kids who are charged with low-level offenses," said Rovner. "So we are making all of ourselves less safe because kids who are in these facilities are more likely to get arrested again, having been detained the first time."
In 2021, there were 379 pre-trial admissions of young people in Connecticut, according to state data, a 49% decrease from 2020.
Connecticut Senate Republicans released a draft bill this session aiming to provide more work opportunities while also addressing a perceived rise in crime among young people.
Christina Quaranta, executive director of the Connecticut Justice Alliance, said reforms that have helped keep youth out of detention facilities should not be reversed, and strategies addressing crime should support community needs.
"Incarceration does not make a young person any better," said Quaranta. "It does not set up a community to be safer in the long term. So we push for solutions that serve the whole child, the whole family and the whole community, which then in turn serve the state of Connecticut well."
The bill includes GPS monitoring of young people arrested on violent-crime charges.
Car thefts in the state increased 40% between 2019 and 2020, although data showed young people weren't the majority of those cases. Car thefts had also fallen to historic lows through 2019.
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