Monday, June 17, 2013

Throwing children in prison turns out to be a really bad idea


Probably doing more harm than good.

The United States still puts more children and teenagers in juvenile detention than any other developed nations in the world, with about 130,000 detained in 2010. And as it turns out, this is very likely a bad idea.

A new paper by economists Anna Aizer and Joseph J. Doyle, Jr. offers strong evidence that juvenile detention is a really counterproductive strategy for many youths under the age of 19. Not only does throwing a kid in detention often reduce the chance that he or she will graduate high school, but it also raises the chance that the youth will commit more crimes later on in life.

This seems intuitive enough, but the problem is actually measuring the effect. After all, the youths who commit crimes and get tossed in detention in the first place are presumably different from kids who never get detained. So of course they’d have different outcomes. What we’d really want to know is whether detention itself is actually making things worse.

For the rest of the story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/15/throwing-children-in-prison-turns-out-to-be-a-really-bad-idea/

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