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Images and Reality: Juvenile Crime, Youth Violence, and Public Policy

January 1, 1994

America appears to be in the midst of a crisis of violence among the nation's youth that requires the urgent implementation of policies incarcerating increasing numbers of our young people. However, the facts suggest otherwise. Actually, incarceration rates reflect policy choices and are not driven by public safety needs. Public policy needs to be redirected toward implementing strategies that will be successful both in the fight against crime as well as ensuring that the nation's youth have a stake in the continued success of our society

How Much Time Do Prisoners Really Do? (FOCUS)

December 1, 1993

With the rise in the crime rate in recent years, short sentences are a major concern of most Americans. In actuality, the high degree of states under-reporting prisoners serving time in prisons tends to cloud our perceptions. The level of under-reporting can be traced to factors which are not accounted for by the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), who publish information regarding prisoners who have been released from prison during a specific time period in a number of monographs. These factors include data such as the amount of time spent in local jails in pre-trial status awaiting their transfer to state prisons and periods of confinement associated with re-admission to prison due to violations of parole. Clearly, a more accurate method of measuring length of stay is needed to better inform the decision-making process in corrections policy development.

1991 NCCD Prison Population Forecast: The Impact of Declining Drug Arrests (FOCUS)

December 1, 1991

According to the National Council and Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), prison populations will increase by 35 percent over the next five years under the current criminal justice policies. This rate of growth is significantly lower than NCCD's 1989 estimates of a 60 percent increase over five years. The principal reason for the lower growth rate is a 20 percent reduction in drug arrests, which in turn is reducing projected jail and prison admissions. The declining number of drug arrests are related to the fiscal crisis of state and local governments, drug asset and seizure laws, and lower drug use. However, prison populations will continue to grow despite reductions in admissions due to the passage of mandatory minimum sentencing statutes and lengthier prison terms for certain crimes. Assuming that the 16 states researched are representative of trends that are on-going in other states and the Federal Prison System, the nation's prison population will reach 1 million inmates by 1994.

Louisiana Juvenile Justice at the Crossroads

October 1, 1991

Over the past decade, interest in community-based corrections for juveniles has grown while dissatisfaction with the expense and ineffectiveness of training schools has increased. Since 1985, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency has investigated technologies that would make a shift from juvenile justice systems plagued with over-incarceration to those emphasizing community-based care. The application of a public-safety risk assessment instrument to Louisiana juvenile offenders revealed that substantial numbers of youth could be safely managed in well-run community programs. This risk assessment technology, together with accurate, policy sensitive, population forecasting and an intensive review of existing community programs, can substantially assist administrators in moving toward more effective juvenile correctional systems.