We are advocating for a full evaluation of every child currently committed to a youth prison to determine who is in need of a secure environment. This process should establish community-based programming as the default, and a secure environment only as a last resort for public safety reasons. Importantly, research has shown that young people who have committed all ranges of offenses can benefit from community-based programming.
For those young people who may need to be placed in a secure environment for public safety reasons, these facilities should be publicly run, small, developmentally-appropriate, treatment-centered, and close to home and familial support. It may be possible to repurpose some existing buildings—such as the residential community homes run by the Juvenile Justice Commission—for these young people.