Closing Jamesburg and Hayes should not result in an increase in waiver of kids to the adult system. Indeed, data from other states that have already decreased their use of youth facilities shows that this reduction did not increase the number of youth being waived into the adult system.
Closure of these facilities would also result in more, rather than fewer, options for youth who become involved in the justice system. With a fulsome reinvestment of funds into community-based programs, prosecutors will have the option to place our young people in even more effective, treatment-focused community-based programs with wrap-around services in the first instance, rather than incarceration being the default for far too many kids. And, in the case where a young person may need to be in a more secure setting for public safety reasons, the new transformative youth justice system would involve small, treatment-focused facilities based on a rehabilitative model, not adult facilities. This transformative model could involve utilization and renovation of the state’s residential community homes or the repurposing of other current buildings to achieve this vision.