CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Gonzalez on Youth Incarceration

Thalia Gonz├ílez (Occidental College) has posted Youth Incarceration, Health, and Length of Stay (Fordham Urban Law Journal, Vol. XLV, 2017) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
For youth from marginalized communities, the pathway into the juvenile justice system occurs against a backdrop of disproportionately high levels of stress, complex trauma, and adverse childhood experiences. Despite overall reductions in the percentage of youth in confinement from recent state-level reforms, the lengths of stay for many youth often exceed evidence-based timelines, as well as a state's own guidelines and criteria. This occurs despite a large and growing body of empirical research that documents the health status of system-involved youth and the association between incarceration during adolescence and the range of subsequent health and mental health outcomes in adulthood. Presently, advocates for length of stay reform rely on two primary arguments: recidivism and costs of confinement. This Article argues that this framing misses a critical component, as a better understanding of the linkages between length of stay, health, and mental health are essential for achieving the foundational goals of the juvenile justice system--i.e., rehabilitation, decreased recidivism, and improved community reintegration. Through an examination of juvenile sentencing typologies, release decision-making, and empirical research on the health and mental health needs of at-risk and system-involved youth, this Article aims to fill this gap and expand current lines of debate, discourse, and advocacy.

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