Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Public Wants Youthful Offenders Rehabilitated

During the 1990s state legislatures across the country enacted statutes under which growing numbers of youths can be prosecuted in criminal courts and sentenced to prison.

Polling data released by the Center for Children’s Law and Policy (CCLP) show that more than 70 percent of the general public agree that incarcerating youthful offenders without rehabilitation is the same as giving up on them. The Center also reported that nine out of 10 people surveyed believe that “almost all youth who commit crimes have the potential to change.”

Separate research conducted by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice (ADJJ) found that when given the choice, the public is more willing to pay for juvenile rehabilitation than incarceration.

  • Eight in 10 favor reallocating state government funds from incarceration to programs that provide help and skills to enable youth to become productive citizens (CCLP poll).
  • More than eight in 10 said that providing community-based programs and services – including education, job skills, mentoring, mental health treatment, counseling, and community service – is an effective way to rehabilitate youth (CCLP poll).
  • Those surveyed were more willing to pay additional taxes for rehabilitation than they are for incarceration (ADJJ research).
  • The average amount in additional annual taxes that respondents are willing to pay for rehabilitation is almost 20% greater than it is for incarceration (ADJJ research).
These new findings indicate a far greater desire for rehabilitation and more moderate reforms than our legislators currently believe.

Lend your voice to the need to change focus. Talk to your elected representatives.

Additional information about the studies is available on

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