When kids act up, locking them up is the wrong thing to do according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Press Release from the Missouri News Servcie

When youths act up, a new report says, locking them up is the wrong thing to do in most cases.

The report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation provides evidence – based on decades of research along with new data – that putting youths behind bars doesn’t keep them from committing crimes later.

The report highlights Missouri’s success with small, treatment-oriented facilities instead of large institutions. Bart Lubow, the foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group director, says other states need to adopt similar policies, and invest in alternatives that focus on treatment and supervision.

“Comprehensive, well-thought-out strategies in state juvenile-justice systems that will not only ensure that there’s fewer kids locked up but that will ensure that there’s less crime, and less money spent, and that kids have better odds of being successful in adulthood.”

Missouri works with families to create a re-entry plan, Lubow says, and provides critical support during that period. As a result, he says, Missouri’s re-offending rates are far lower than those of other states.

The report also finds that incarcerating youths doesn’t benefit public safety, wastes taxpayer money and exposes young people to violence and abuse. In nearly every case, Lubow says, the “crimes” committed are minor.

“The majority are either charged with nonviolent offenses or are there primarily for acts of defiance relative to an adult.”

The report makes six recommendations to help states improve their juvenile-justice systems.