Fixing juvenile justice

A new campaign aims to tackle the youth prison system in Virginia by shifting the focus to community-based solutions over incarceration.

Editorial (Virginia)

Virginian-Pilot (The Pilot)
October 5, 2015

Tags: Juvenile Justice

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Justice Center (Virginia)


For every year they spend in a youth prison in Virginia – at an annual cost of $151,000 – the probability that they will be arrested for another crime increases by about a third. Within three years of release from a youth prison, nearly three-fourths of offenders are convicted of another crime.

“Youth prisons don’t make our communities safer,” said Kate Duvall, attorney for JustChildren, a program with the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville.

On Thursday, Duvall and other youth advocates unveiled a statewide campaign to transform Virginia’s approach to juvenile justice.

RISE for Youth aims to shift focus and money from incarceration to prevention. It hopes to persuade the General Assembly to invest in effective, less-expensive, community-based alternatives. Eventually, it wants to close Virginia’s two youth prisons, which hold more than 400 teens, and transfer offenders to smaller regional facilities.