Thursday, October 20, 2011

Advocates: Spend 1% of justice budgets on juvenile programming for at-risk youth

Three local contributors from the Council on At-Risk Youth have an op ed in the Austin Statesman today that may interest Grits readers concerned with juvenile justice. Noting that 30% of arrests in Travis County last year involved juveniles, the editorial concludes:
The pipeline from the school disciplinary system to prison has been clearly identified by many researchers. The question is: How do we shut it off, and when and where can we do it?

One answer has been promoted and acted upon by a local organization, the Council on At-risk Youth (CARY). Founded in 1999 as a nonprofit organization with the mission of "helping youth promote safe schools and safe communities," CARY works in close collaboration with the Austin Independent School District. Each school year, CARY conducts prevention programs with 600 of the most aggressive and abusive middle school youths involved in school disciplinary system.

CARY youth advisers are located at seven Austin school district campuses, where they engage aggressive disciplinary students referred by school authorities in a curriculum called "Aggression Replacement Training." CARY advisers teach social skills, anger management, aggression control and empathy training. In addition to these small-group skills training activities, CARY staff members also provide individual counseling and offer parent training support groups.

The results of the CARY program have been evaluated by outside experts on a consistent basis. The evaluations find that CARY targets the very highest risk youths, and the programs are effective in decreasing aggression levels, achieving behavioral and attitudinal improvements, and promoting safer and more peaceful campus environments. These positive assessments have been seconded by school principals, counselors and parents.

There are also tangible dollar savings in these programs. CARY's cost of $750 annually for each high-risk youth in Austin pales in comparison to the cost of a one-year sentence in Travis County Jail ($15,000); a year in a state prison ($18,500); or a year at a Texas Youth Commission facility (more than $100,000). In fact, when a high school dropout embarks on a 10-year criminal career, the costs related to criminal justice services, lost payroll tax revenue, lost child support payments and losses to victims cumulatively represent a cost to the American public of between $1.7 million and $2.3 million for each youthful offender.

The proven, cost-avoiding and, in some cases, life-saving programs CARY conducts merit support from local and state government. During the past six years, half the nonprofit's budget has come from contracts with Travis County and the City of Austin. Travis County continues its support, but CARY prevention programs very nearly fell victim to the budget ax of the City Health and Human Services Commission.

If you support effective and cost-efficient prevention and intervention programs for at-risk youths, help us cut off the pipeline to prison. Call on city, county and state elected officials to support the cost of an ounce of prevention by dedicating the equivalent of at least 1 percent of our juvenile and criminal justice system budgets to initiatives like CARY's. 


Anonymous said...

Change that to "some" at-risk youth, and I would agree. School districts go out of their way to label students as "at-risk" because it gets the district more federal and state money.

Sheldon tyc#47333 said...

The CARY program, as I understand, produces tangible positive results. So what’s up with our states leadership?
Researchers have been aware of the public school to prison pipeline for some time now as well as the disproportionate socioeconomic differences in the population that’s gets caught up in the nets and shoved into this pipeline. Researchers have even shown the historical aspects of this pipeline. However this blogger does not believe the best interest of at risk youth has ever been a priority for state leadership. The priority appears to be focused on providing an inventory for a job corps of socially dysfunctional entitlement minded people who can’t work in a private sector capitalist economy.

The cost of 1.7million dollors to tax payers for one at risk youth to be used as fodder for this type of job corps intitive is staggering.

What if tyc was required by law to refunded the cost of imprisonment for every tyc alumni who is sent to TDCJ within 5 years of their release from tyc. The money would come from tyc’s executive payrole budget and placed in TDCJ’s institutional budget. With tyc executives being held accountable they may go to the effert to produce a better ROI than an 87% residivisium rate.

Anonymous said...

I like that term "at risk." Maybe I'm at risk of punching my neighbor in the face. It's not my fault, I'm just at risk. I need all kinds of high paid folks to intervene. How about the term "got the urge."

Gritsforbreakfast said...

10:56, think about children with incarcerated parents, who suffer physical or sexual abuse, etc., and whether you honestly believe those risk factors are really just the same as "got the urge." It may be comforting to imagine that every juvenile who breaks the law is just a bad kid, but reality is a bit more complicated than that.

Anonymous said...

I remember when kids were kids and if they made a mistake.They were just kids.Now we eat are young.Nobdy can mind thier own business anymore,parents wanna blame the schools the school wants to blame the parents;And we live in a chicken shit society!

Anonymous said...

Just don't let any ex-TYCers get involved and all will be OK.

Anonymous said...

This looks great except the $750 cost-per-pupil estimate sounds a little too good to be true.

Bill Bush

Anonymous said...

Lets see there are actually people out there going if you just give us $750 we can save you 1.5 to 2 million per child.

How do folks just throw out crazy numbers and then others hear that and get all frantic about the money and no one call the bluff. 750 or 2 million.

Public schools have for years lied about numbers for at risk youth. example: you can not ask for any verification for those on free and reduced lunch. EVERYONE and I mean everyone is strongly encouraged to get on the program. Parents are told it brings in federal dollars and reduces taxes because we can spend those federal dollars. So since there are no questions ask...little Johnny's mom leaves her $350,000 house and drops the little one off in the Land Rover for his free and reduced lunch. the school gets a pass on most scores because of the high number of kids on free and reduced lunch.
The scam just goes on and on and on.

So CARY, for just $750 is going to save us millions per kid. It really is an amazing scam. But then that is what public education has become, a scam!