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Policy Position 10: Provide Small Rehabilitative Facilities
Traditional juvenile correctional institutions are not effective at rehabilitating youth. Placing youth in large, group confinement facilities is not justified from the perspective of treatment effectiveness or the prevention of future recidivism. Jurisdictions should phase out large, prison-like institutions and instead use home- and community-based programs that provide youth the services they need. This is particularly true when dealing with youth who have engaged in status offense behaviors and other similar groups of young people. When a more secure placement is required, states should use small, home-like secure facilities because small facilities are better able to give young people the care they need.
The best facilities are run by youth specialists who are highly motivated and well trained, most with a college degree. The culture and the physical environment are conducive to positive youth development and rehabilitation. These facilities are located close to the communities where young people live, allowing families to repair and renew relationships and practice skills for addressing challenges youth face upon release. Staff members provide developmentally appropriate individual and group programming with the goal of enabling youth to reintegrate into their communities. Lengths of stay are determined by achievement of treatment goals, and youth are released when treatment goals are met.
1 The use of small rehabilitative facilities was first developed in Missouri. These facilities house no more than 40 young people at a time, and are staffed by an ethnically diverse group of people who are trained in youth development. The facilities have proven successful, and young people who leave the facilities are less likely to be rearrested when compared to youth who are incarcerated in traditional detention facilities, where more than 100 youth are frequently housed in tight quarters. See The Missouri Model: Reinventing the Practice of Rehabilitating Youthful Offenders. Available at: www.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/aecf-MissouriModelFullReport-2010.pdf. Last accessed Oct. 22, 2014.