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The Impact of Youth Incarceration and Alternative Solutions

This article was originally written in 2018 as a student paper for the CJ 340 Juvenile Justice System course at Minot State University.


Incarceration is a serious punishment that can have a lasting impact on a person’s life. This is especially true for young people. When youth are incarcerated, they are not only separated from their families and friends, but they are also cut off from their education and their future opportunities.

There are many negative consequences of youth incarceration. One of the most serious is the increased risk of recidivism. Studies have shown that youth who are incarcerated are more likely to re-offend than those who are not incarcerated. This is likely because incarceration disrupts young people’s social and psychological development. It can also lead to dropping out of school, which can make it difficult to find a job and support themselves in the future.

In addition to the increased risk of recidivism, youth incarceration can also have a negative impact on young people’s mental and physical health. Studies have shown that incarcerated youth are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. They are also more likely to have health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

The incarceration of youth can also have a negative impact on their families. When a young person is incarcerated, their family members are often left to pick up the pieces. They may have to take on additional financial responsibilities, and they may also experience stress and anxiety. In some cases, the incarceration of a young person can even lead to the breakdown of the family.

There are many alternatives to incarceration for young people who commit crimes. These alternatives can include community service, restitution, and counseling. These programs can help young people to understand the consequences of their actions and to make positive changes in their lives.

Incarceration should only be used as a last resort for young people who commit crimes. It is important to remember that young people are still developing, and they have the potential to change their lives. We should focus on providing them with the support they need to succeed, not on locking them away.

Further Reading

  • Aizer, A., & Doyle, J. (2013). Juvenile Incarceration, Human Capital and Future Crime: Evidence from Randomly-Assigned Judges. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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