• 46°

Fewer youth facing bars

An encouraging report on youth incarceration came in under the radar last week, receiving little fanfare as attention was largely focused on budget drama in Washington.
The rate at which America puts young people behind bars has plunged in the past 15 years, the Annie E. Casey Foundation said. Between 1995 and 2010, the youth incarceration rate dropped by more than 40 percent. The Casey study used Census figures to compile the numbers of Americans younger than 21 held in youth centers, adult prisons or other types of detention. North Carolina mirrored the national trend, with a 43 percent decline in youth incarceration over the study period. The study’s compilers said the drop might have been even more pronounced if they’d been able to include more recent data, which they believe will show the trend is continuing.
Why the big drop? Demographics could account for part of the plummet, as the median age shifts toward the grayer side of the scale. But the Casey report points to three other primary causes:
• A move away from a “lock ’em up” attitude and toward alternative strategies.
• An overall decline in juvenile crime.
• Fiscal constraints that make it increasingly unpopular to spend upwards of $80,000 per bed (on average) to incarcerate young offenders.
We can see such factors at work in North Carolina, where there’s growing support for the “Raise the Age” movement that would process 16- and 17-year-old offenders who commit misdemeanors through the juvenile court system, rather than treating them as adults, as the state currently does. A proposal in the General Assembly would change the law. It should be approved. Diverting non-violent youth into the adult system is more likely to turn them into chronic, hardcore offenders than rehabilitate them into productive citizens. Of N.C. youths who had served prison sentences beginning at 16 or 17, almost 70 percent were rearrested within three years of leaving prison, according to the N.C. Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commisson.
The Casey report makes a strong argument that rehabilitative efforts are both the more humane and cost-effective strategy for dealing with young offenders who’ve shown no violent tendencies. A combination of reducing punishments for low-level offenses and increasing alternative interventions such as counseling and community-based mentoring and monitoring programs can help turn lives around without endangering public safety. Legislators here and in other states should take note.

Comments

Comments closed.

Education

Rowan County administers 700 vaccines, with majority going to local educators

Crime

Shoplifting at Walmart presents challenge for Salisbury police

Local

Commissioners will hear details about changes to solar energy policies

Business

After overcoming obstacles, local barber Daniel King earns registered status

Lifestyle

39th annual K12 student exhibitions go virtual

Business

Biz Roundup: Chamber of Commerce to host ‘Salute to Agri-Business’ at March Power in Partnership

Local

Local legislators back bills ranging from new restrictions on sex offenders to Holocaust education

News

After surviving COVID-19 scare, Lois Willard set to celebrate 100th birthday

High School

Carson rolls over South 41-0 as about 600 allowed in to see season opener for both

Education

East Spencer after school program looks toward opening, nonprofit status

Lifestyle

Frank Ramsey inducted into the NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame

College

Livingstone’s Stoutamire inducted into 2021 CIAA Hall of Fame

Nation/World

J&J’s 1-dose shot cleared, giving US 3rd COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

13 deaths reported in Rowan, county stresses need to receive second dose

Coronavirus

10% of Rowan residents receive first dose; eight COVID-19 deaths reported this week

News

North Carolina State Highway Patrol commander to retire

Education

UNC School of the Arts may go for online learning due to COVID-19 spread

Coronavirus

Greensboro site to administer 3,000 daily vaccine doses starting March 10

Nation/World

Update: $1.9 trillion relief bill passes House, moves on to Senate

Nation/World

Lady Gaga’s dogs recovered safely

Coronavirus

Update: FDA follows advisers’ recommendation, OKs single-shot COVID-19 vaccine from J&J

Local

Post wins 18 N.C. Press Association Awards

Education

Cooper vetoes bill that would force K-12 schools to reopen

Local

Lanning named Spencer’s fire chief