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Youth Incarceration Costly, Ineffective Says Justice Policy Institute

Justice Policy Institute

A new analysis of youth incarceration says it costs Montana, on average, $175,000 annually to incarcerate a single non-violent youth offender.

The non-profit Justice Policy Institute says some violent young people simply must be incarcerated. However, executive director Marc Schindler says jailing non-violent youth is not only a waste of taxpayer money, it's a largely ineffective response to delinquency.

Schindler says there are less expensive and proven better ways to work with troubled young people.

"Things like mentoring," said Schindler. "Things like educational support. Things like workforce training. Those are the types of things that we should be investing in that are proven to work."

Schindler says data shows states that are reducing their non-violent youth incarcerations are also seeing declines in overall crime rates.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.