In the last few years New Jersey’s juvenile justice system has been changed without any publicity, but with highly effective and spectacular outcomes. New Jersey keeps minors who commit criminal offenses at their homes and in their familiar environment instead of locking them up in detention centers. Since using this approach the number of crimes committed by minors has significantly decreased.
According to director of Juvenile Justice Strategy Group at the Annie E. Baltimore Casey Foundation, Bart Lubow, the latest research has proved that placing young offenders under house arrest instead of putting them in detention institutions away from their home and familiar environment reduced the juvenile crime rate and worked better in rehabilitating juvenile offenders. Bart Lubow also stated that now, after such a success in limiting reliance on detention institutions, New Jersey is ready to focus on the next step in the direction to further reduce the use of juvenile detention facilities.
Only 10 years ago, before New Jersey started to participate in Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative project, the state still used detention centers for juvenile offenders, the majority of which were overpopulated. Since the start of the project New Jersey has been using home detention instead of juvenile facilities.
Executive director of Advocated for Children of New Jersey Cecilia Zalkind said that despite limited freedom under house arrest and putting ankle bracelets on juvenile offenders, they are still together with their families in their homes. Zalkind also added that home detention approach helped more minors to get rehabilitated. Moreover, currently plenty of detention facilities in New Jersey are closed.
Home detentions also save taxpayers money. Zalkind said that since using home detentions millions of dollars were saved because juveniles did not get into the traditional juvenile justice system.
Zalkind also mentioned that research showed that adolescent brains are still in fast development stages and can be easily negatively or positively influenced. Thus, it is better to keep juvenile offenders in their familiar home environment than in detention facilities where they could be exposed to the negative influence. According to Zalkind rehabilitation is the top priority and that’s exactly what the state is trying to do.
Source: New Jersey 101.5