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New study outlines many negative aspects of juvenile incarceration

A new study has come to a few startling conclusions about juvenile crime and the impact so many arrests and incarcerations of young people affect the graduation rates of these individuals. But that isn't the only thing this study is about. There are a few key takeaways from the study that highlight the failings of not just the juvenile criminal system, but the entire criminal justice system.

First of all, a disproportionate number of juveniles who are arrested are racial minorities. And even though the overall number of juveniles that are incarcerated has been in decline since 1997, the racial disparity is alarming.

Secondly, the study found that juveniles are greatly impacted by the incarceration, which isn't that surprising. But what you may be surprised to hear is that the incarceration has a two-pronged and dramatic effect on these individuals. It not only reduces their chances of graduating high school significantly (anywhere from 13 to 29 percent), but it also increases their chances of being incarcerated as an adult (anywhere from 23 to 41 percent).

Third and finally, the cost of these incarcerations is massive. It costs roughly $88,000 to incarcerate a juvenile for 9-12 months. In 2008, this meant that all states in the U.S. spent a combined $5 billion on juvenile incarceration.

And here's another added fact from the study: we have the highest juvenile incarceration rate by far of any other developed countries. Our rate is 336 incarcerated juveniles per 100,000. The next closest country is South Africa with 69 per 100,000.

The system is unfair; it costs a lot of money; and it negatively impacts juveniles for many years, and possibly forever. This system needs to change, and soon.

Source: Journalist's Resource, "Juvenile incarceration and its impact on high school graduation rates and adult jail time," Feb. 4, 2015

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