Tenet 9: End Use of Detention and Confinement
Detention and incarceration disrupt a youth’s development, exacerbate pre-existing trauma, and often expose young people to extreme physical and sexual violence, restraint and isolation.[i] Youth should never be subjected to such dangers. Most youth placed in justice facilities are there for non-violent offenses[ii] and would be better served in the community.[iii] Residential treatment away from the home should only be used as the last resort, if at all, for only the small number who pose a significant and persistent risk to public safety, as informed by a validated risk assessment, and not based solely upon the offense charged.[iv] In these cases, training schools should be prohibited and treatment programs should be small, therapeutic, and located close to the youth’s home so that family relationships can be repaired and strengthened and community supports can be provided during the treatment process. Length of stay should be no more than three to six months, given that longer stays can be harmful and show no reduction in recidivism.[v] To ensure accountability, there should be an independent entity that provides regular oversight of all placements and jurisdictions should regularly report data on youths’ safety and progress in treatment.
- Juvenile Law Center, Ten Strategies to Reduce Juvenile Length of Stay
- Campaign for Youth Justice, Zero Tolerance: How States Comply with PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard