The U.S. locks up far more juveniles per capita than any other country, and our country and our state cannot afford that any longer: not economically, and not in the cost of incarceration turning children into criminals.
Pete Brook wrote for Wired 11 April 2012, Uncompromising Photos Expose Juvenile Detention in America,
States have turned away from punishing acts such as truancy and delinquency with detention; acts that are not criminal for an adult but have in the past siphoned youths into the court system. Less detention has been accompanied by less violent crime among youth.
“It may seem counter intuitive, but if you look at the types of offenses for which we’re no longer detaining youth, it is not,” says Sarah Jane Forman, assistant professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and director of the Youth Justice Clinic which provides legal counsel to indigent youth. “The kids who have committed serious violent crimes; they remain locked up.”
Not only is being locked up ineffective as a deterrent in youths who have not reached full cognitive development and don’t understand the consequences of their actions, it can actually make a criminal out of a potentially law-abiding kid.
The U.S. has far more juveniles per capita locked up than any other country, according to Cross-national comparison of youth justice, by Neal Hazel, 2008, www.yjb.gov.uk.