Interventions Keeping Kids Out of Juvenile Detention in One Upstate New York County

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Razor wire fence borders the Metro Regional Youth Detention center in Atlanta, Ga. JJIE Staff, 2010. File photo.

For the last five years, a small county nestled in upstate New York has experienced a staggering decrease in the number of juveniles placed in residential detention facilities, with the community’s total detained youth population plummeting by more than 75 percent since 2007.

A recent story published by The Post Star in Glen Falls, N.Y., suggests that a joint program among the county’s probation department, schools, attorney’s office and social services department could explain how the detained juvenile population shrunk from 49 detained youths in 2007 to just nine in 2011.

The agencies work together to provide intervention services for young people, a preventative measure to “correct” behavioral issues before they lead to incarcerations. Two local high schools, in Glen Falls and Queensberry where 76 percent of the county’s detained youth hail from, currently have full-time probation officers assigned to them, according to The Post Star. Additionally, the county probation department has assigned multiple officers to work via the social services department to improve communications.

The multi-department program has proven to have financial benefits in addition to social benefits. As the county is implementing more home electronic monitoring devices as alternatives to incarceration, Warren residents are seeing a major reduction in daily costs; electronic monitoring costs are reportedly cost $8 a day per juvenile, whereas keeping youth detained in the nearest juvenile detention center – before factoring in transportation and Family Court appearance costs – runs in excess of $200 a day per juvenile.

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