Fewer juveniles locked up in WV; recommendations to continue the trend
Monday, September 25, 2023
The number of children behind bars in West Virginia has declined significantly in recent years, but their advocates said more work could be done to create effective alternatives to incarceration.
The one-day count of detained youths in 2021 was nearly 25,000 nationwide, which is a 60% decrease over the past decade, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Josh Rovner, director of youth justice for The Sentencing Project, said while the trend is positive, he does not expect it to continue. He pointed out at least part of the decrease was because of the pandemic.
"When you think about the things that kids get arrested for, it's often school-based referrals," Rovner observed. "And if virtual school is happening, then kids aren't going to be referred by their school resource officers. They're not going to be shoplifting if all the stores are closed, they're not going to be getting into fights if they're all staying at home."
A one-day count in 2019 found almost 500 kids under 18 were in detention facilities in West Virginia. By 2021, the number had dropped to 345. Data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation said young people released from correctional confinement have high rates of being rearrested.
Research has shown children who are incarcerated often experience significant long-term consequences, Rovner noted persist into adulthood.
"Whether there's one child who is locked up -- or 10,000 or 100,000 -- it's important to realize just how toxic these facilities are for kids," Rovner contended. "They have much worse outcomes, not only on their education and career achievements, but also much more likely to reoffend."
Recognizing the adverse effects, experts and activists are asking for a more compassionate approach to juvenile justice. Reforms focusing on rehabilitation and community-based support systems have proven to be more effective in addressing the underlying issues than locking juveniles up.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
A bill moving through the Kentucky Legislature would make fluoride treatment in drinking water optional for local municipalities. House Bill 141 …
Most teenagers eagerly anticipate turning 16 to start driving and 21 for other milestones, but the significance of obtaining the right to vote at 18 …
New York state lawmakers have appointed members to the Community Commission on Reparations Remedies, created through legislation Gov. Kathy Hochul …
A new report argued many charitable foundations need to examine the origin of their wealth and repair harms done. The National Committee for …
A proposed urban reforestation program in Massachusetts aims to help cities mitigate the effects of climate change. Legislation would create a state …
A Wyoming nonprofit is helping single mothers climb out of poverty by connecting them with the training and support they need to step into and succeed…
Ahead of Super Tuesday, a new poll finds a majority of Mainers support replacing the Electoral College system with a national popular vote. More …
Even though March is barely underway, parents of Wisconsin kids are being encouraged to plan for summer reading activities - especially if their …