This phenomenon has come to be called the “school-to-prison pipeline,” or the “schoolhouse-to-jailhouse track.” Minor school disciplinary problems that used to be handled by school administrators are now frequently referred to law enforcement.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, WSIPP was directed by the Washington legislature to identify “evidence-based policies” that were shown to improve particular outcomes.
Community-based responses have been shown to be much more effective and cost-efficient.
A growing number of judges do not place youth in secure detention for status offenses, even in jurisdictions that allow them to do so when youth violate court orders related to their case, such as orders to attend school regularly (known as the “valid court order” exception).
Resources currently being spent on costly facilities to securely confine youth can be “realigned” or “reinvested” by states and counties to discourage state incarceration of youth and encourage use of more cost-effective community-based alternatives.
Below are examples of several states that have successfully altered the fiscal architecture of their juvenile justice systems in this way.
Locking up these youth who have not been found delinquent not only jeopardizes their safety, but doesn’t address what is generally at the root of their problems – child abuse and neglect, poverty, family disorganization, and trauma.