Juvenile Crime Prevention Programs that Save Tax Dollars

Crime in America

We maintain that the best data on what works within adult and juvenile justice comes from the federal government and the Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

The winner as to clarity and well written research documents goes to the state of Washington. Go to http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/ and get on their mailing list for future publications.

Their publications essentially seek to do two things; document what works and establish whether or not criminal justice programs benefit taxpayers.

The Institute identifies research-based programs with favorable outcomes in other states and recommends adoption in the state of Washington.

It’s interesting to note that, according to their latest evaluation, programs targeting juveniles having contact with the justice system that include working with parents and family create significant savings. In essence, the family becomes partners in supervision and service delivery. See http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/rptfiles/10-12-1201.pdf.

We suspect that there are endless numbers of families throughout the country who could benefit from intervention. The level of child abuse and neglect among people caught up in the criminal justice system is astoundingly high. It seems that there are many families or single parents (overwhelmingly female) that need instruction on raising and disciplining a child.

It seems that when parents interact and learn from social workers and other professionals, there is less offending by the child and up to $14,000 in benefits to society for each child participating.

Data on recidivism (new criminal activity) is forthcoming but previous research on family based strategies is very positive.

This is not the time to ask states to create a new bureaucracy (due to budget difficulties) but data on juvenile offenders and kids acting out indicate that family intervention strategies create good results.

There are some within the criminological community who speculate that if the family strategy was aggressively pursued with all “at risk” children, we could significantly reduce crime in America.

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