Study Shows Youth Incarceration Trending Down Nationwide

By Jimmy Jenkins
Published: Thursday, December 19, 2019 - 5:40pm
Updated: Friday, December 20, 2019 - 10:29am

new report aggregating data from around the country shows youth incarceration is trending down, but racial disparities among youth still in confinement are on the rise.

Researchers at the Prison Policy Initiative, a nonprofit agency that publishes reports on incarceration statistics, have found youth confinement is down 60% since the year 2000.

A new report estimates 48,000 youths are currently confined in detention facilities across the country.

But Prison Policy Initiative spokesperson Wanda Bertram says the young people who remain behind bars are not representative of society.

“Black youth are not only more likely to end up in the juvenile justice system in general, they’re also more likely to be detained pre-trial and to be put in adult prisons and jails as opposed to youth facilities," Bertram said. 

Bertram said the most serious charge leveled against 1 in 5 incarcerated youths is a technical violation or a status offense. 

“Which are things like running away or not showing up at school," Bertram said, "things that aren’t actually crimes if they are committed by adults.”

Bertram says their research shows at least a third of remaining incarcerated youths could be released without costing additional money or endangering society.

The number of incarcerated youths in the Department of Juvenile Corrections increased by more than 20% in Arizona over the past year after remaining relatively flat for several years.