These stories are heartbreaking, but they need not be disheartening. Instead of nurturing responsible citizens, youth prisons risk systemically traumatizing youth and leaving them less able to find employment, have healthy relationships, get an education and lead productive lives. We welcome outside contributions. Youth prisons are an outdated approach to rehabilitation that too often includes physical and sexual abuse, neglect and isolation. We have a real opportunity to build on the progress being made in these states in every jurisdiction across the country.
In Virginia, RISE for Youth advocacy group has earned bipartisan support in the state legislature to close massive, outdated youth prisons and reinvest the money saved into more effective community-based programs. Advocates are working to ensure the closure of other youth prison complexes and instead offer young Virginians a real shot at rehabilitation and a brighter future. States from coast to coast could see a major reduction in costs associated with the juvenile justice system if youth prisons—which eat up billions of dollars each year —were shuttered in favor of alternatives that rehabilitate youth while promoting public safety. About 50, youth are caught in a system that disproportionately imprisons African Americans and Latinos. A similar effort is underway in Kansas, where Kansans United for Youth Justice helped ensure the passage of comprehensive reform legislation to reduce the use of incarceration and redirect funds to evidence- and community-based approaches. Some teens, including Dequan Jackson , are kept behind bars not because they are a danger to society but because they cannot afford court fees. These stories are heartbreaking, but they need not be disheartening. Coupled with awareness of the problems should be awareness of the tremendous progress being made to change the way our juvenile justice system operates. Instead of nurturing responsible citizens, youth prisons risk systemically traumatizing youth and leaving them less able to find employment, have healthy relationships, get an education and lead productive lives. The models are there. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors. And following recent reports of sexual assault at the Lincoln Hills facility in Irma, Wisc. Fortunately, some elected officials are beginning to understand this reality, and increased public pressure can help swell their ranks. We welcome outside contributions. Youth prisons are an outdated approach to rehabilitation that too often includes physical and sexual abuse, neglect and isolation. Others experience appalling treatment: Advocates across the country are hard at work to create more effective, humane alternatives that will help young offenders stay out of the criminal justice system as adults. In response to calls for change, legislators and governors in states including Virginia, Kansas and Connecticut have committed to closing some of the worst youth prison facilities in their states, while reinvesting in community-based solutions that actually rehabilitate youth. These facilities tear young people away from the schools, families and faith communities where they can find the support and services they need for success. We owe it to young people and their families to invest in community-based interventions that actually work. We have a real opportunity to build on the progress being made in these states in every jurisdiction across the country.
Video about youth sex offenders in adult prisons:
Prison Kids Juvenile Justice in America Full Documentary
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