Report Calls For Changes In Sentencing Juvenile Offenders

Apr 8, 2014

A new report by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families is suggesting that judges and other officials reconsider whether locking up some juvenile offenders is the best approach.

The study, which looked at more than 40,000 incidents in the state, was released Tuesday in Fayetteville.

“We are jailing a large number of non-violent, low level offenders who are full-time students at school," said Senior Policy Analyst Paul Kelly.  "We need to be looking much more closely at the decisions that are being made about which kids to place in detention, realizing that this is often times the front door for placing kids deeper into the system.”

The group is encouraging officials to use a valid risk assessment method for determining the danger a young offender poses to the community, which he says would reduce the number of inappropriate detentions.

Kelly says alternatives can include the use of ankle bracelets, therapy, community service or steps taken for young people to reconcile harm done to their victims.

You can read the full report, titled "Why Detention Is Not Always The Answer," here.