Martin & Kent, L.L.C. Martin & Kent, L.L.C.

attorneys

Dropping juvenile incarceration rates in Illinois

Over the past couple of decades, the focus on incarcerating juveniles has significantly changed. Society has increasingly become aware that placing juveniles in detention or jail and holding them there does little to reduce their recidivism rates. Instead, it has been shown to increase the likelihood that a juvenile will commit another offense.

Increasingly, the system has turned to alternative sentences for juveniles, reserving incarceration for those juveniles that most pose risks to public safety. In the past, a large number of juveniles were incarcerated for nonviolent offenses, and the percentage of incarcerated juveniles peaked around 1995. In 1997, 3,426 juveniles in Illinois were incarcerated for a rate of 278 minors per 100,000. By contrast, in 2010, 2,217 juveniles in the state were incarcerated for a rate of 178 per 100,000, a decline of 36 percent.

Juvenile crime has also decreased at the same time incarceration rates have done so. Experts recommend that the system implement limits for which juveniles are deemed eligible for incarceration. For those that are, they recommend that they are sent to centers that are small and focused on treatment, rather than focusing on punishment.

The juvenile justice system proceeds under a different body of law than the adult criminal law system. The juvenile system is supposed to be more focused on rehabilitation and education instead of punishment. As youths are still developing, they are more likely to respond to treatment-focused approaches rather than to punishment. While the decline in juvenile incarceration rates is good news, more can be done, as the experts point out. When a juvenile is charged with a criminal offense, their family may want to seek help from a criminal defense attorney who may be able to negotiate a non-incarceration sentence so the juvenile can get the help that is needed.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information