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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

Report: Diverting youth away from the justice system is working

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Monday, April 15, 2024   

Efforts to keep young people out of the criminal justice system are working, according to a new Sentencing Project report.

Elie Zwiebel, attorney and executive director with the Transformative Justice Project of Colorado, said the vast majority of adolescents in the justice system - disproportionately children of color and other marginalized groups - have committed low-level, non-violent offenses.

He said programs that bring young people face to face with victims, and help them repair the harms they caused, send an important message.

"We are saying that we value keeping those young people in our neighborhoods," said Zwiebel, "because we recognize that they should have a chance to learn and grow, and to ensure that they can become pro-social beneficial members of their communities."

The report highlights a decade-long effort to increase diversion programs in Colorado. Today, half the state's court districts divert adolescents to restorative justice programs.

More than 90% complete the program, fewer than one in 10 commit a new offense, and 99% of victims reported being satisfied with the process.

Dick Mendel, senior research fellow for youth justice at The Sentencing Project and the report's author, said community-based programs also benefit taxpayers.

The average cost of locking up an adolescent is $588 a day, but it costs just $75 a day for programs with wraparound services.

"Diversion tends to be cheaper," said Mendel. "It's not a net cost, it's a net savings, even in the short term. And it's especially a net savings financially in the long term, because these young people are much less likely to come back."

The report challenges political rhetoric that only tough-on-crime policies can make communities safer.

Researchers found that being arrested in adolescence actually increases the likelihood of recidivism, and greatly reduces a child's chances for success in school and beyond.

Zwiebel said he believes it's time for a different approach.

"We have tried - as a nation, and as individual communities within our nation - to implement tough-on-crime policies for decades," said Zwiebel. "For decades we tried that, and it didn't work."




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