In an editorial published on Sunday, August 30th, the Roanoke Times encouraged the Virginia State Crime Commission to look closely at the research and information surrounding Virginia’s practice of trying and incarcerating youth as adults and to be smart about crime not just tough on crime.
Archive for August, 2009
The trial and incarceration of youth as adults has received significant local news coverage over the past week. Below are links to the two most recent articles:
The New York Times (8/10, A1, Moore) reports, “As cash-starved states slash mental health programs in communities and schools, they are increasingly relying on the juvenile corrections system to handle a generation of young offenders with psychiatric disorders. About two-thirds of the nation’s juvenile inmates – who numbered 92,854 in 2006, down from 107,000 in 1999 – have at least one mental illness, according to surveys of youth prisons, and are more in need of therapy than punishment. ‘We’re seeing more and more mentally ill kids who couldn’t find community programs that were intensive enough to treat them,’ said Joseph Penn, a child psychiatrist at the Texas Youth Commission. ‘Jails and juvenile justice facilities are the new asylums.’ At least 32 states cut their community mental health programs by an average of 5 percent this year and plan to double those budget reductions by 2010, according to a recent survey of state mental health offices.” The Times adds, “Juvenile prisons have been the caretaker of last resort for troubled children since the 1980s, but mental health experts say the system is in crisis, facing a soaring number of inmates reliant on multiple – and powerful – psychotropic drugs and a shortage of therapists.”