2013-03-07 / Community

Report: Fewer kids locked up

Michigan rate drops, but remains too high

LANSING – Although the youth incarceration rate in Michigan dropped below the national average between 1997 and 2010, the state still locks up too many nonviolent teens, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Even with the decline, almost 2,000 Michigan youth under age 21 were living in juvenile residential facilities in 2010 on a single day count. Roughly four of five of these young people were male, and half were African American, according to the online Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement.

“Research shows that placing youth in these facilities does not improve their life chances nor reduce recidivism,’’ said Jane Zehnder-Merrell, the Kids Count in Michigan director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “And the negative impact of this approach disproportionately affects African American youth who have much higher incarceration rates.”

Michigan’s overall rate dropped 44 percent between 1997 and 2010: from 369 incarcerated youth per 100,000 in 1997 to 208 per 100,000.

While this substantial decline pushed the Michigan rate below the national rate (225 per 100,000) by 2010, the state rate was almost four times that of Vermont with the lowest rate (53 incarcerated youth per 100,000).

“Michigan is making progress on providing community based alternatives for youth,” said Michelle Weemhoff, Senior Policy Associate at the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency. “But the state still has much work to do to ensure that every county can offer low cost but highly effective programs that work with the whole family.”

The report, “Kids Count Data Snapshot: Youth Incarceration in the United States”, can be found at www.kidscount.org.

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