JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM AND RECIDIVISM
The Todd Burks Foundation & Underdog34 & Associates and its Board of Advisors recognize the serious nature of juvenile incarceration and recidivism in this country today. This is a problem that exists and has existed for years. The problem is as real as real can be, and while it has gotten a little better, it isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. I say that because no matter how much funding is received, no matter how many studies are conducted, no matter how many data models are created – nothing is likely to
change, unless there is a change to the approach.
Our research has identified four different levels of juveniles that need be addressed in assessing just where and how to tackle this problem:
Let’s take a quick look at each for the four different categories.
Juveniles Currently Incarcerated
This from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s “No Place For Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration”. Research shows that incarceration reduces youths’ future success in education and the labor market. One study found that correctional confinement at age 16 or earlier leads to a 26 percent lower chance of graduating high school by age 19. Other studies show that incarceration during adolescence results in substantial and long-lasting reductions in employment.
Dozens of recidivism studies from systems across the nation have found that these facilities fail to place youth on the path to success. Re-offending rates for youth released from juvenile correctional facilities are almost uniformly high. Within three years of release, around 75 percent of youth are rearrested, and 45 to 72 percent are convicted of a new offense.
In New York State, 89 percent of boys and 81 percent of girls released from state juvenile corrections facilities/institutions in the early 1990's were rearrested as adults by age 28.
Nationwide, taxpayers spent about $5 billion in 2008 to confine youthful offenders in juvenile institutions. According to the American Correctional Association, the average daily cost nationwide in 2008 to incarcerate one juvenile offender was $241.00. The cost of the average 9 to 12 month stay of one youth
is $66,000 to $88,000.
Not a pretty picture, don’t you agree?
Juveniles in Probation-Based Supervision
Let’s look at the Juveniles in probation-based supervision programs. From an article in The Gilmer Mirror (Austin, Texas, January 29, 2015): A first-of-its-kind study from the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center reveals that Texas youth fare better under community-based supervision and are far less likely to re-offend than those incarcerated in state correctional facilities.
An analysis of the State and Local impact of the Texas Juvenile Justice Reform, which draws on an unprecedented dataset of 1.3 million individual case records spanning eight years, shows youth incarcerated in state-run facilities are 21 percent more likely to be rearrested than those that remain under supervision closer to home. When they do re-offend, youth released from state-secure facilities are three times more likely to commit a felony than youth under
The article goes on to say, “Young people’s futures can be determined in an instant, and this data shows we can better help our youth and move our state forward by investing in community-based alternatives, rather than commitment to a state facility,” said Deborah Fowler, executive director of Texas Appleseed, an advocacy organization that promotes social and economic justice.
Additionally, the report found substantial evidence that all counties could lower recidivism rates further by doing a better job applying the latest research, such as assigning youth to the right programs and appropriate levels of supervision. As research has shown in the past, mixing youth with different levels of risk in the same programs and over-programming youth with minimal needs not only does
little to reduce the likelihood of a young person re-offending, but could actually have the unintended consequence of increasing the likelihood of being rearrested.
After a number of abuses involving youth incarcerated in state facilities were uncovered, Texas state leaders enacted a series of reforms between 2007 and 2013. Texas leaders argued that many youth were incarcerated unnecessarily, and that supervising and providing treatment to kids close to home, rather than shipping them to far-off correctional facilities, would produce better individual outcomes and save taxpayer money without compromising public safety.
So the first two categories show some rather dramatic differences in just how juveniles who commit crimes should be dealt with. One could argue that the results of incarceration are not all that glowing based on 2008 data from the State of New York, and the nationwide expenditure of $5 billion to confine youthful offenders isn’t exactly "chicken feed".
The juveniles who already find themselves in the juvenile justice system present unique problems for society as a whole, because the incidence of repeat offenses is statistically substantial. It is not unreasonable to question whether rehabilitation programs, either during incarceration or in a supervised probation program, have the potential to get the desired results.
I personally believe that the best place to have an opportunity to reach juveniles is in the last two categories: those juveniles on the edge of finding themselves in the juvenile justice system, and those still a little too young to be in trouble with authorities but who will soon be faced with life-altering choices and decisions.
I say this because once a juvenile is in the system, history suggests that rehabilitation is difficult. But what if there were a more proactive approach to the situation? What if we could turn around some of the juveniles right on the edge of winding up in the system and more than likely lost forever? Some in this group may already be so close to going over the edge that it just might not be doable, but I personally think it is better to get to them now before they become a statistic, their foreseeable futures branded with the stigma of having been in the system.
But where I believe the most good can be accomplished is in those still too young to be in trouble with the authorities. This is where the Todd Burks Foundation, in cooperation with Underdog34, desires to take a stand and tackle the problem with a fresh perspective and game plan. Having had first hand experience with establishing and seeing the power of mentorship in the form of Big Brother and Big Sister programs, I know that this implementation could assist in keeping the youth on track to success and out of the juvenile justice system! I can assure you I myself would be where I’m at in life without my dad, mentors, coaches, teachers, and concerned community leaders.
Here are a few interesting facts and figures worth noting.
The Census of juveniles in residential placement figures from 1977 to 2011 reveals a population decline from 105,055 in 1977 to 61,432 in 2011, a decrease of 43,632, or 41.53%. Interestingly, the male census drops from 90,771 in 1997 to 53,079 in 2011. That’s a decline of 37,692, or 41.52%, and represents 86.39% of the overall juvenile census residential placement.
Correspondingly, the female juvenile residential placement census dropped from 14,284 in 1997 to 8,344 in 2011, a decrease of 5,940 or 41.58%. So as you can see, both male and female declined at approximately the same percentage. While these numbers are very encouraging, there is still much to be done to make sure the juvenile residential placement census continues to stay on the
downward trend going forward.
One final tidbit that I found quite amazing: As of year-end 2012, the USA rate was 920 adults incarcerated in prisons and jails per 100,000 population. And at year-end 2007, the United States had less than 5% of the world's population - but 23.4% of the world's prison and jail population (adult inmates).
Todd Burks Foundation & Underdog34 Juvenile Initiatives
Who better to tell the juveniles who are teetering on the edge and those still too young about what happens when they run afoul of the law than those who are already in the system either through incarceration or in a supervised probation situation?
Or, someone who has been in the system and has come out the other side having paid their debt to society? There are several who fit this bill to a “T”. One that comes to mind is my friend Otis Nixon, former Major League Baseball player. Otis tells a very moving, stirring and emotional story about his rise to the top in baseball, only to wind up in a bit of trouble. Today, Otis is a Youth Minister at a church in Woodstock, GA. He hit bottom, but Otis came out of trouble a better man. He dedicates his life to helping others – particularly young people, who are the most vulnerable because of their age, immaturity, lack of rationale, and, quite frankly, their feelings of just plain invincibility.
To Have a Significant Impact, We Need Your Help
Any such project as this takes a lot of time and a significant amount of funding to accomplish good things. Through the Todd Burks Foundation and Underdog34, there is more than ample time. Underdog34 has a cadre of gifted, talented, and dedicated individuals to more than accomplish the stated goals. We’ll do the
THE UNDERDOG34 LIFE MASTERY SERIES was developed as a seven-module process designed to help juveniles who are incarcerated in a correctional facility or juveniles who are in a community based probation situation better understand why they are where they are and what they can do to change their lives when they return back into society. Releasing these youth without an
education-based game plan is beyond irresponsible! We want to get to this age group while the getting is good.
But to have a significant impact, we need significant financial support. A tax-free donation in any amount to the Todd Burks Foundation will go a long way in accomplishing our mission, which is to have an impact at every level discussed here today.
Whether it’s reducing the recidivism rates of those juveniles who will eventually be turned back out into society, or keeping a juvenile currently on a supervised probation from becoming incarcerated, or interceding for one of those on the edge or teetering and a serious potential to wind up incarcerated or in a supervised probation, or putting a positive role model in front of some youngster who is just too young at the moment – we can and will have an impact.
With your tax free financial contribution to the Todd Burks Foundation, we will make a difference!!!
The Definition of Insanity:
Doing the same thing over again and expecting different results!