Friday, August 12, 2016

Facing the problem of mass incarceration part 1

We have a crisis in America, we are incarcerating at such a high rate our prisons and jails are becoming overcrowded and our mentally ill youth are struggling even more after incarceration. So let's dig deep into the research and then let's take a look at some alternatives. This is Part 1 of a 5 part series on the problem of incarcerating our youth.

Approximately 100,000 youths are currently incarcerated in the US[1], Just over two million youth under the age of 18 were arrested in 2008.

About two-thirds of the nation’s juvenile inmates or 92,854 in 2006, have at least one mental illness.[2]Of these two million, about 95 percent had not been accused of violent crimes, such as murder, rape, or aggravated assault. In 2010, of the nearly 100,000 youth under the age of 18 who were serving time in a juvenile residential placement facility, 26 percent had been convicted of property crimes only, such as burglary, arson, or theft.[1]

Every state in America has different laws on transferring  juveniles to adult court here are the states and their age restrictions;

No minimum age requirements;[3]
Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Dist. of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Maryland,
Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia

Age10; Kansas, Vermont, Wisconsin

Age 12; Colorado, Missouri, Montana

Age 13; Illinois, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Wyoming

Age 14; Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Virgina

Age 15; New Mexico

California was at the forefront of the spiral towards imprisonment rather than treatment, when it turned its back on community based mental health programs. As usual, what started in California spread throughout the country. In 1971 there were 20,000 people in California prisons; by 2010 the population had increased to 162,000 people, of which 45 percent are estimated to be mentally ill. [4]

One psychologist found that for one-third of incarcerated youth diagnosed with depression, the onset of the depression occurred after they began their incarceration, and another suggests that poor mental health, and the conditions of confinement together conspire to make it more likely that incarcerated teens will engage in suicide and self-harm. [5]

Juveniles are 5 times as likely to be sexually assaulted in adult rather than juvenile facilities. Often within 48 hours of incarceration. [6]

Increasingly, research points to the negative effects of incarcerating youth offenders, particularly in adult facilities. Literature published since 2000 suggests that incarceration fails to meet the developmental and criminogenic needs of youth offenders and is limited in its ability to provide appropriate rehabilitation. Incarceration often results in negative behavioral and mental health consequences, including ongoing engagement in offending behaviors and contact with the justice system. Although incarceration of youth offenders is often viewed as a necessary means of public protection, research indicates that it is not an effective option in terms of either cost or outcome. The severe behavioral problems of juvenile offenders are a result of complex and interactive individual and environmental factors, which elicit and maintain offending behavior. [7]

David Gottesman and Susan Wile Schwarz[1]
Solomon Moore[2]
WGBH educational foundation[3]
Standford Law School, California State Senate pro Tem, Darrell Steinberg Stanford Law School Professor, David Mills Stanford Law School Three Strikes Project Director, Michael Romano[4]
Justice Policy Institute[5] 
The prison rape elimination act of 2003, Justice policy institute[6]
 Anna Aizer Brown University and NBER Joseph J. Doyle, Jr. MIT and NBER, 
 Psychology Department, University of Auckland, New Zealand[7] 

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