Crowding in Juvenile Detention: A Problem Solving Approach Thursday, April 27 2000

Broadcast Overview 
According to the 1985-1995 census of public juvenile detention, correctional and shelter facilities, U.S. juvenile detention populations have increased by some 72 percent over the past decade, largely as the result of increased rates of detention for minority youth. It is interesting to note that less than one-third of the youth (29 percent0 in secure detention (in a one day snapshot in 1995) were charged with violent acts, while 71 percent were held for status offenses and related court order violations, failure to comply with conditions of supervision, and property, drug, and public order offenses.

This significant increase in juvenile detention accounts for the fact that more than 60 percent of youth in juvenile detention are confined in facilities that are operating over capacity. The effects of crowding are detrimental for youth, staff and the community. They include a high incidence of disciplinary infractions; escapes; violence; staff burnout; reduced opportunities for programming, recreation, and education; and poor sanitation-factors which increase the risk of litigation.

Community responses to addressing  the problem of crowded juvenile detention facilities vary. They include  adding beds, constructing larger facilities, instituting  population caps, and attempting to reduce the number of youths entering the facility and their length of stay. Each of these options has serious short and long-term policy and financial implications. Decisions as to how to approach the problem should be made with care and deliberation, taking into account all available options and developing a comprehensive response.

On Thursday, April 27, 2000, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, with the support of the National Juvenile Detention Association, hosted a national satellite videoconference to address various approaches to solving the problem of crowding in juvenile detention facilities.

Broadcast Objectives
  • Raise awareness of the problems resulting from crowding in juvenile detention centers.
  • Review the usual responses to crowding and to explore new options.
  • Provide strategies that communities can implement to address the problem.
  • Discuss the importance of legislative, executive and judicial branch leadership in detention reform.
  • Explore opportunities for public/private partnerships in the detention area.

The Juvenile Justice Teleconference Website
For More information, please contact:
Jenny McWilliams at 859-622-6671

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