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Study finds Texas juvenile system to be effective

We've talked a lot about juvenile crime on this blog in the past. A lot of the discussions have centered around the immense consequences that juveniles face, as well as the seemingly-misguided attempt by law enforcement to incarcerate juveniles. Locking up young people seems to be a bad strategy, as it could scar the juvenile for life or turn him or her into a hardened criminal.

Now we have a study that seems to validate these concerns, as it shines a light on a tremendous system implemented in Texas that not only greatly reduced the number of juveniles that were locked up -- but seemingly lowered the crime rate among juveniles as well.

In 2007, in the wake of allegations that rampant abuse was common in juvenile detention centers, Texas revamped it's juvenile crime system. Less juveniles were locked up (4,305 in 2007, down to 1,500 in 2012) and, coincidentally, the youth crime rate in the state dropped by over a third in the same timeframe. Maybe there really is something to avoiding the trap of locking away people and then throwing away the key.

There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered about this study, but this could be the shining example needed to help us reform our juvenile criminal systems in this country. It's not that juveniles should walk free every time they commit a crime. Instead, we just need to be smarted about the punishment we level against these kids.

Source: ABC News, "Study: Texas Cut Juvenile Jail Rates, Saw Youth Crime Fall," Will Weissert, AP, Jan. 29, 2015

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