Tuesday, November 27, 2007

America Still Number One


Without addressing the morality of locking folks up forever and a day, one only has to look at the cost of it all to say there has to be a better way. I can only liken the "Prison Nation" mentality to a junkie or an alcoholic, there might not be money for a whole pile of things but somehow or other both the junkie and the nation somehow manage to find the money for their prospective fixes.

Young, Black and Locked Up
Incarceration is extremely costly. In California, state detention centers for young people cost $216,000 a year per child; county facilities cost about $117,000. States spend on average nearly three times as much per prisoner as they do per public school pupil. In some states, the growth in prison costs also exceeds the growth in higher education spending. When it costs more to detain a child than to provide him a Head Start, we need to seriously reassess our nation's values and priorities. While there seems to be no cap on prison spending; Head Start funding serves only half of those eligible.

But it is not total darkness out there, it seems that one state at least (there may be others) has come to the conclusion that maintaining the status quo isn't the answer to youth detention.

One state that has gotten it right on juvenile justice is Missouri. Under the caring youth-focused leadership of Mark Steward, its former Youth Services Director, in 1983 Missouri closed all of its youth prisons and divided the state into five regions so that confined youths would be within driving distance of their homes. Each region has two facilities housing no more than 40 young people. This Department of Youth Services focuses on intensive individual counseling, academic and vocational education, and positive behavior modification. Key features of the Missouri model are its integration of mental health into all of its rehabilitation components and its comprehensive approach to treatment, which includes family therapy and counseling.more


Anonymous said...

I wonder how long it will take for the straw chewing rednecks on the right to figure this out. HH

Himself said...

A brain is like a parachute, it works best when it's open.