NTF worksheet: douglascounty132.doc. 6-19.

BACKGROUND. An individual supporting the location of a new juvenile detention center downtown offered us a report from an institute to convince us that we should support the effort to relocate the juvenile detention center downtown and a new philosophy managing juvenile justice. After reading the report and researching the backgrounds of the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), its staff and board of directors, we have not changed our position that the downtown detention center proposal is too expensive and lavish and that alternatives may not bring anticipated results.

OUR REASONING. The JPI argues against incarceration for most juveniles, noting that juvenile detention facilities more closely resemble adult prisons, youths placed in overcrowded and understaffed facilities, an environment “that conspires to breed neglect and violence.”(p.2). These conditions do not describe the Douglas County Juvenile Detention Center. The JPI report cites studies alleging that incarcerated youth have a high recidivism rate. We can provide county statistics that demonstrate that alternatives to detention programs also have high recidivism rates (p.4).1 The report cites mental and behavior health needs as a reason to seek alternative mental health services (p. 8). There is an old saying, “Religion is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” This phrase often applied to criminals who sought to mask their true behavior behind a façade of religious sanctity in order to fool their jailers. We believe that youthful and adult criminals now cleverly play the mental health card in order to avoid incarceration. This report refers to the effect of incarceration causing school drop outs or not re-enrolling (p.9). Many of these young offenders might not have re-enrolled or dropped out even if not incarcerated. The same with unemployment and re-employment. The report reference to juvenile jailing affecting employment ignores the fact that some of these youth already may have negative performance records in employment, showing that they are not stable, trustworthy employees (p.10). Also, many employers simply do not hire individuals with criminal records anyway. Many of the statistics used in the report appeared outdated (p. 11). According to the Office of Juvenile Justice within the U.S. Justice Dept., juvenile crime is rising again, contrary to text in the report (p. 12). Statistics do bear out that a disproportionate number of minority youth enter detention facilities (p. 13), yet these percentages correlate with the number of crimes/arrests committed by minority youth. A valid argument, however, contends that law enforcement concentrates more in minority areas. Therefore, one can legitimately argue that because minority youth reside in higher crime areas, they are more likely to face arrest in these areas more heavily patrolled by law enforcement. The report suggestions for reducing juvenile detention populations appear reasonably workable, but only if they show a lower recidivism rate than the rate from actual detention (p. 14). The report suggests (p. 16) that the treatment of juvenile criminals involve the family with increased services. Such endeavor poses two problems. One, some family units are so fractured (e.g., parents neglecting or even criminalizing their children) that social intervention is an insurmountable option. Secondly, substituting in loco parentis services is very expensive to the taxpayer and, without benchmarked results, is a waste of taxpayer resources.

. This report seeks to convince readers that alternatives to juvenile detention will lower the crime rate in Omaha and Douglas County, NE. by alluding to statistics from other cities. However, the alternatives to detention chosen by the Douglas County justice system may not match or correlate with those alternatives used in other localities. The nature and number of crimes may differ between the cited counties and Douglas County. Therefore, the figures illustrated on p. 15 of the report may have no bearing on consequent crime rates here following implementation of alternative strategies. Furthermore, our research into the background of JPI found that this organization espouses many liberal causes, actually opposes incarceration of violent juvenile criminals, and endorses closing all juvenile detention centers. 2 In conclusion, our taxpayer group does not accept the premises of this report as valid for Douglas County and continues to advocate increased detention space without frills, sited at its current location.

Research and documentation for this worksheet done by members of Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom. This material copyrighted by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, with express prior permission granted for its use by other groups in the Nebraska Conservative Coalition Network. 6-19. C

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