Safely Home: The Case for Community over Institutions

Tonight, 70,000 youth will sleep in a locked facility, having been caught in our juvenile justice system or even in our adult criminal justice system.

It shouldn’t be the case that this becomes the norm, where we refuse to take the cheaper, preventive actions and instead choose the more costly and damaging actions.  A new report from Youth Advocate Programs, Inc., titled “Safely Home,” highlights proven strategies that keep youth out of the juvenile justice system and in their homes with their families.

YAPResearch has shown that when 3,523 high-risk youth were living at home and supported by an intensive community based program, 86% of them remained arrest free while in the program, and 93% remained living at home at the end of the service.

And specifically YAP, one of those intensive community based programs, has shown that 95% of their program participants were still living at home and in their communities up to six-to-twelve months after they were discharged.

These programs are preventive measures that empower the families of high-risk youth, and they’re programs that are less costly, proven investments in the potential and opportunities of our youth. The average daily cost of an incarcerated youth is $240.99 a day, whereas the cost of community-based programs for high-need youth average out to be $75 a day.

In fact, one of the most persuasive arguments the report makes is that investing in these programs would not cost anything more, and that redirecting funds from institutions into these programs would actually yield a savings for the tax payer.

The state of Alabama, for an example, has made a commitment to redirect dollars from state institutions to counties and allows them to develop alternative programs with great results. In 2006, 3,340 youth were in state custody, but by 2013, that number had dropped to 1,485. Additionally, the number of kids living in their community went from 68% to 91%.

Learn more about YAP and other community-based programs and how they are a proven and smart alternative to our juvenile justice system in the new report, Safely Home, here.

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