How effective has Texas been in reducing recidivism among their juveniles
After reports of sexual abuse and assault from several incarcerated youths. Reforms were made to lower the number of imprisoned juveniles in different states. Texas was among the first states to implement these reforms. One of the laws indicated that minor offenders should not be incarcerated, instead, they were put under community supervision. Only those who had committed felonies were to go to state prisons.
Between 1995 and 2005, incarceration among youths increased by 48% in Texas. However, after the implementation of these reforms, juvenile arrests reduced to 10%. Juveniles who were incarcerated in state prisons were put under the supervision of the Texas Youth Commission. Several juvenile correctional centers were shut down. This reduced the cost of maintaining them and generated savings that are used by the county juvenile probation department.
According to a report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Incarceration does not reduce recidivism, rehabilitation does. This led to the recommendation that only major offenders should be imprisoned. Although Texas has played a major role in reducing recidivism. Research shows that it has not reached its full potential. Guidance, training and technical assistance are needed to increase the impact of these supervision programs. Since some juveniles have mental problems. There is also a need for guidance on mental issues and post-trauma services.
Reports indicate that juveniles incarcerated in state prisons are more likely to re-offend than those under community supervision. Texas has made to reduce the number of youths in state correctional facilities. It still has the potential to further reduce the number of incarcerated youths and reduce recidivism. The presence of a robust information system in Texas makes it easy to track the progress of a juvenile who has been referred to the juvenile justice system.
Several programs have contributed to the decrease in recidivism, some of them include; Faith-Based Inner Change Freedom Initiative, Felony Punishment Program, and Sex Offender Education Program. These and other programs that were implemented in Texas reduced recidivism by 25% and crime by 10%.
The laws passed between 2007 and 2012, were seeking for an alternative measure other than incarceration that would lower crime and recidivism. Incarceration did not have well developed rehabilitative measures. Texas Youth Commission has played a major role in reducing recidivism by supervising defiant juveniles closer to home. It led to the closure of three major prisons. This not only reduced the burden of maintaining prisons but it also eliminated negative consequences of imprisonment such as unemployment and family issues.
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Spooner, Kallee, et al. “Recidivism among juveniles in a multi-component gang reentry program: findings from a program evaluation in Harris County, Texas.” Journal of Experimental Criminology 13.2 (2017): 275-285.
Klenowski, Paul M., Keith J. Bell, and Kimberly D. Dodson. “An empirical evaluation of juvenile awareness programs in the United States: Can juveniles be “scared straight”?.” Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 49.4 (2010): 254-272.