Though this is really not the kind of study you'd think anyone would actually need, I'm glad that the Justice Policy Institute has done the study that shows what all of us in the system already know: "rather than promoting public safety, detention — the pretrial “jailing” of youth not yet found delinquent — may contribute to future offenses. Studies from around the country show that incarcerated youth have higher recidivism rates than youth supervised in other kinds of settings."
Here's the core finding: "Detention is widely misapplied, according to the report by the Justice Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based group that studies adult and juvenile justice policies. Although detention facilities are meant to temporarily house those youth who are likely to re-offend before their trial or who are unlikely to appear for their court date, many of the youth in this country’s 769 detention centers do not meet these criteria. Seventy percent of youth in detention are held for nonviolent charges. More than two-thirds are charged with property offenses, public order offenses, technical probation violations, or status offenses (like running away or breaking curfew). Youth of color are impacted disproportionately by the overuse of detention. In 2003, African-American youth were detained at a rate 4.5 times higher than whites; and Latino youth were detained at twice the rate of whites. In the same year, black youth were four times more likely to be incarcerated in Louisiana than whites and received longer dispositions than white youth even though there was little difference in the severity of offenses committed or in prior offense histories.
“Not only does inappropriately detaining youth cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year, but the overuse of detention generally does not make our communities any safer,” said Bart Lubow, head of JDAI (Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative), a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation that works to build better futures for disadvantaged children and their families. “Across the country, jurisdictions are looking for more effective policies and practices to promote community safety and better outcomes for youth. JDAI sites have reduced adolescent detention, strengthened juvenile justice systems and saved money -- all without compromising public safety."