Opposing New Construction of Youth Correctional Facilities

Oct 08, 2020
  • Description

Communities across the country are advocating for the closure of youth correctional facilities and for resources saved from these closures to be redirected into communitybased services, supports, and opportunities for youth. As these communities work towards eliminating out-of-home confinement for youth altogether, some are considering an interim step -- creating smaller or newer, short-term, secure care facilities for the very few youth who pose a serious risk to public safety.

This can raise the question of whether jurisdictions should build new youth correctional facilities or instead repurpose existing residential care placements or other buildings in communities. As an organization that supports community campaigns to reduce incarceration in many jurisdictions, we offer some guidance to campaigns and to policymakers on why constructing new youth correctional facilities is the wrong choice for youth, their communities, and the larger public. In brief, the reasons for opposing new construction are both practical and strategic: ultimately, pouring resources into constructing new facilities, even facilities that are small and community-based, undermines longerterm decarceration efforts and other system improvements, diverts from investments in community-driven approaches, and is an inefficient use of valuable resources.