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Keeping kids out of jail may help reduce juvenile crime

Juvenile justice is based in part on the belief that juvenile offenders, more so than adults, are redeemable. The origins of juvenile law in the U.S. can be traced back to the mid-1800s, when lawmakers began to worry that institutionalizing children with adults was doing more harm than good. In an attempt to save these children, a progressive era in juvenile law sprang forth, and with it came the early stages of our modern juvenile justice system.

According to a recent research study published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the New Jersey juvenile detention centers saw a significant decrease in the number of minors locked up for juvenile crimes between 1997 and 2010. Researchers attribute the drop in juvenile inmate populations to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's program dedicated to ensuring that only the most serious juvenile offenders find their way inside secured detention facilities.

The report suggests that between 1997 and 2010, minors serving time in juvenile detention centers in New Jersey dropped from 2,250 juvenile inmates to 1, 179 juvenile inmates, a 50 percent drop in juvenile incarceration rates. While many observers believe keeping kids out of jail can have positive effects in terms of crime reduction, reducing the number of juvenile offenders in secured facilities can also save the state and counties considerable tax money.

Kids do stupid things, sometimes criminal things. While punishment may be appropriate at times, incarceration can have serious long-term effects. That is why it is vital for juvenile offenders facing serious criminal charges, such as drug charges, or even minor charges, such as underage drinking and driving, seek the aid of a juvenile defense attorney. There are many alternatives in the juvenile justice system to incarceration, the key is convincing the judge.

Source: NJ.com, "Juvenile detention down 50 percent across state," Jason Laday, April 6, 2013

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