Decades of research have revealed that stable and consistent relationships between minors and parents, teachers, and community members can help protect teens from violence and crime. Despite this evidence, the juvenile justice system continues to funnel teenagers who commit minor infractions at school to non-local detention facilities far from loved ones and support systems. Acknowledging that these types of prison facilities are counterproductive to youth development and decreasing recidivism, New York City has begun a process of reforming the structure of youth detention facilities by moving away from an adult structure to a more local approach.
However, New York City is not the only city making these changes as many other U.S. cities have already successfully implemented programs that support community-based alternatives to teenage confinement. This growing movement will soon affect youth across the nation, so if your child was recently charged with or convicted of a crime, it is critical to obtain the advice of an experienced juvenile defense lawyer who can help protect his or her interests.
A Community-Based Approach
The World Health Organization and UNICEF have stated that secure confinement in large detention facilities should be treated as a last resort in matters concerning juvenile crime. Instead, these agencies suggest keeping youth closer to their communities, which will in turn, lower the overall rate of recidivism.
Taking this advice into account, New York City’s new policy states that even after a youth has been found guilty of committing a crime, he or she can be placed in a small, local, residential facility located near family, local neighborhoods, and a familiar school. This initiative represents a significant change in the current laws that govern the juvenile justice system. However, the reforms are relatively new in the city, so the extent of their influence largely remains to be seen.
Data received from other local initiatives is heartening and reveals a lower rate of reoffending among youths who are involved in more local and community-based reform programs than those who are held in high-security detention facilities. However, a more equitable distribution of resources will help in expanding the scope and effect of these projects. For example, millions of dollars are spent every year on maintaining and running large-scale prison facilities and very little of the budget is allocated to these types of small reform initiatives.
Contact an Experienced Juvenile Defense Attorney Today
Researchers have known for years that youths do not respond well when placed in large-scale detention facilities, but until now, few changes have been made in the juvenile justice system to reflect this knowledge. However, cities and states across the nation are beginning to implement new programs that may represent a permanent solution to the rising rate of youth crime. Georgia is still in the process of reforming its justice system, so if your child was recently charged with a crime, please contact Ford Law by calling 404-373-9881 and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you schedule an initial consultation with a dedicated juvenile defense attorney.