A study comparing Texas youth with nearly identical characteristics shows that juveniles under community-based supervision are far less likely to reoffend than those incarcerated in state correctional facilities, the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, in partnership with Texas A&M University, announced in late January.

CLOSER TO HOME: An Analysis of the State and Local Impact of the Texas Juvenile Justice Reforms, which draws on 1.3 million individual case records spanning eight years, shows youth incarcerated in state-run facilities are 21 percent more likely to be rearrested than those that remain under supervision closer to home. When they do reoffend, youth released from state-secure facilities are three times more likely to commit a felony than youth under community supervision.

“The extraordinary data compiled for this study demonstrates convincingly how much better youth fare under community supervision,” said Tony Fabelo, director of Research for the CSG Justice Center.

Since 2000, when the number of juveniles incarcerated was at a record high, the number of detained or incarcerated youth has decreased by more than 40 percent nationwide, according to 2013 figures, with some state populations declining by as much as 80 percent. Texas has helped contribute to that national drop.

“Texas has demonstrated it is possible to achieve reductions in crime while reducing the number of youth incarcerated,” said Texas Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston). “Prior to the reforms, youth were placed in facilities and essentially put on a path to the adult prison system. Now, we need to take additional steps to make sure we are doing everything we can to support youth under community supervision to help them become successful adults.”

David Reilly, executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, said this report sets the stage for the state and Texas’s juvenile probation departments to partner together to continue make progress in juvenile justice.

“We’ve come a long way already,” he said. “Now, we need to continue to reduce the number of youth in state facilities and further refine our partnerships with local probation departments to achieve better outcomes for youth while continuing to maintain public safety.”


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