Texas can continue saving money and protecting public safety by renewing support for probation departments' TYC diversion initiatives that more than pay for themselves as they enable TYC to continue downsizing.
For example, intensive in-home programs with both a probation officer and family therapist making frequent home visits significantly reduce recidivism and cost a fraction of TYC. As such local programs take root, juvenile crime continues to drop, and TYC commitments have fallen 38 percent this year. Every youth redirected from TYC saves taxpayers about $80,000 a year.
For all but the most serious and high-risk offenders, incarceration often increases reoffending, as lower-risk youths are negatively influenced by higher-risk peers and positive bonds with their family, church and community are frayed. While effective in-home programs address the lack of discipline and other underlying family issues typically at the root of delinquency, these problems may remain unsolved after a nonviolent youth stays for an average of 11 months at TYC and returns to the same setting.
Texas has made remarkable progress in lowering juvenile crime while reducing costs. Policymakers can build on these gains for public safety and taxpayers by continuing to strengthen community-based programs that hold juveniles accountable through proven supervision and treatment strategies, ensuring that the most costly destination for Texas youths is truly the last resort.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Levin: Incarceration alternatives for youth save money, reduce recidivism
Marc Levin from the Texas Public Policy Foundation has an op ed in the Houston Chronicle arguing that Texas can save money on juvenile justice and reduce recidivism by limiting incarceration to the most serious offenders. The article closes: