incarceration: Give our youth a chance

There are prevention and treatment programs that work. However our law makers, legislatures and the criminal justice system over the past decade have ignored prevention and treatment initiatives in favor of punitive measures. Children are being incarcerated for petty crimes. I know of a situation were a 10 year-old boy was incarcerated for taking a bottle of glue from school. I have seen first hand how incarceration is not deterring kids from entering and re-entering the juvenile justice system. The ramifications incarcerating our youth has created an enormous burden on the taxpayer. In Idaho I know of a boy who has been incarcerated for almost a year and he has cost the state or in other words the taxpayer over $100,000. I believe this money could be put to better use to rehabilite and create and implement prevention and treatment programs to try and keep our youth out of the criminal justice sytem. A number of studies have found that punishment is not effective as a deterrent and does not reduce the recidivism rate. Many programs are implemented into practice but do not work, such as Scared Straight, The Dare Program, boot camps, and wildreness camps. Probation has also been found to be ineffective. We need to make a stand and not join the ranks of our politicians and lawmakers and take the easy way out and accept their quick fix schemes. Our criminal justice system needs something more than just a band-aid, it needs concerned citizens like yo to demand a future for all our youth.

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I have been doing an intership at a juvenile detention center and have become concerned because I have seen the same kids entering and reentering the system. I know there are programs that work at keeping the kids out of jail. I would like to see the lawmakers try to help our youth succeed rather than creating future offenders to supply our prisons with free or cheap labor. I am just a concerned citizen desiring for all youth to succeed and become productive adults.

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