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Va. Group Pushes For Less Juvenile Incarceration

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In the past four years, 18 states across the country have closed more than 50 juvenile correction facilities, and many in the field of juvenile justice say that's not a bad thing.

Kate Duvall works with Just Children -- a branch of Virginia's Legal Aid Justice Center -- and she says bureaucrats in Virginia are still recommending investment in more beds at the state's six juvenile correctional facilities. Duvall says that's a bad move, citing a report released today by the Annie E. Casey foundation entitled "No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration."

"What this report says is that this kind of focus on incarceration is really a waste of taxpayer money, and is really ineffective," says Duvall.

The report shows the average cost to states for incarcerating just one juvenile offender is $88,000 per year. Nearly 75 percent of those incarcerated, according to the report, will commit other crimes soon after their release. Duvall says it's no different in Virginia.

"Those youth released in 2006 in Virginia, after three years, 70 percent of them had been convicted of another crime," she says. Despite those numbers, states continue to spend the bulk of their budgets on incarceration, even with mounting evidence that in-home or community based treatments can deliver better results for less money.

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