Invest in Youth -- Not Prisons.

Page Count
Year Published
Author (Individual)
Helmcamp, Leslie.
Author (Organization)
Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children.
Resource Type
Resource Format
This issue brief highlights the benefits of increasing the use of community-based alternatives for youth rather than incarceration in Illinois. It explains the use of incarceration has consequences that leave youth more likely to commit another crime and less likely to succeed in school, find employment, and become financially secure in the long run. It notes community-based approaches that promote rehabilitation are less expensive and that evidence-based therapies delivered in the community can reduce recidivism rates by more than 15% while helping youth remain in their community. Steps for transforming the Illinois juvenile justice system are then described and include: invest in community-based responses to juvenile delinquency; fully support and expand Redeploy Illinois, a community-based alternative to incarceration; create a dedicated State youth investment fund that redirects resources from reducing the use incarceration toward community-based approaches; and support and improve educational and employment opportunities for youth. Information is provided that indicates youth incarceration costs 29 times more than the Redeploy Illinois program, the cost to incarceration a youth has increased 54% in the last three years, and that Illinois youth prisons are below capacity as costs rise. Statistics are shared that show Illinois spent $94 million to incarcerate 546 youth in 2015. Finally, the increase in public safety as a result of community-based programming is discussed. 35 references.

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