States Have Choices for Juvenile Justice Reform
By: Bill Baccaglini and Dr. Sylvia Rowlands, The New York Foundling
March 4, 2015
State and local governments around the country are dealing with issues related to incarceration of juveniles. Several, including New York, are considering proposals that would end sentencing 16- and 17-year-olds as adults and expand alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders.
Wherever these issues are raised, opponents with their own special interests inevitably arise and launch into a steady and predictable drumbeat equating incarceration with public safety. Their message implies that the choice is incarceration or nothing — and that by reducing the number of juveniles who are locked up, we are going to endanger public safety. In fact, the issue is far more nuanced than that.
It’s not incarceration or nothing. In reality, it’s incarceration versus approaches that have already been proven to yield better results.