To keep Texas kids safe and healthy, we must make sure they are on the right path. Unfortunately, nearly 100,000 children are caught up in Texas’ juvenile justice system every year. Many are suffering from substance abuse, mental health problems, or severe trauma. While an increasing number of youth are being diverted to community-based supervision and treatment programs, others continue to be housed in county or state secure facilities. These state secure facilities are too large and too remote, resulting in staffing problems, low family involvement, high youth-on-youth violence, and ineffective rehabilitation. And although county facilities are able to keep youth closer to family and community resources, research shows that for most youth, time spent in any secure facility harms rehabilitation. What’s worse, some youth as young as 14 are sent to adult facilities.
Prevention and Early Intervention: Every youth must be given the necessary tools to live a safe, healthy, and productive life. Children belong in school, not in prison. Texas can’t afford to perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline. We must increase the availability of proven prevention, early intervention, and diversion programs.
Fewer Youth in Confinement through Real Community-Based Programming: When a youth is in trouble with the law, the system’s failure to respond appropriately only produces future criminals. Texas must offer resources for real community-based alternatives to incarceration for youth caught up in the system. We must also provide effective treatment for trauma, substance abuse issues, and mental health problems. Counties need the grant funds, technical assistance, accountability standards, and oversight to help them develop and effectively implement best practices to strengthen their diversion and treatment infrastructure. All programming and services for youth must be age-appropriate and emphasize their unique needs. Positive family participation in youth treatment plans should be a high priority.
Effective Treatment: No child is a “throwaway” child. The few youth who are legitimate threats to public safety and who warrant incarceration should be held in safe, accountable, and small juvenile facilities – not in the adult system. They must have access to effective treatment and programming to address the root causes of their delinquent behavior.
Reentry Assistance: Youth who are reentering the community need assistance in areas of education, medical and mental health services, safe housing, employment, mentorship, and other basic needs. Effective reentry assistance provides the greatest opportunity for these youth to become productive, law-abiding adults.
Click here for a brochure on our Solutions for Youth Justice project.
For more information, please contact us.