Kids locked up at high rate in SDStudy says state leads nation in rate of juvenile incarceration.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
South Dakota has the highest rate of juvenile incarceration in the nation, a report says.
According to a report released Feb. 27 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, South Dakota’s rate of juvenile incarceration was 575 juveniles per 100,000 in 2010, an 8 percent increase from 1997, when the state’s rate was 533 juveniles per 100,000.
The report’s data was collected from a one-day count, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, of “young people under the age of 21, assigned a bed in a residential facility,” the report says. The most recent published data is from 2010.
Wyoming has the next highest rate of juvenile incarceration, with 440 juveniles per 100,000.
In 2010, a young person in South Dakota was 11 times more likely to be locked up than one in Vermont, which had the lowest rate in the nation, the report says.
The national rate of juvenile incarceration reached a 35-year low in 2010, at 225 juveniles per 100,000.
The overall number of juveniles incarcerated in South Dakota actually declined from 528 in 1997 to 504 in 2010, the report says.
Nationwide, the total number of incarcerated juveniles peaked at 107,637 in 1995. By 2010, that population declined more than 34 percent to 70,792. That decline has not led to a surge in juvenile crime.
“Crime has fallen sharply even as juvenile justice systems have locked up fewer delinquent youth,” the report says.
Despite the decline, the U.S. still leads the industrialized world in locking up young people, the report says.
“Our decreasing reliance on incarceration presents an exceptional opportunity to respond to juvenile delinquency in a more cost-effective way -- and to give these youth a real chance to turn themselves around,” said Bart Lubow, director of the foundation’s juvenile justice strategy group, in a news release issued with the report.
One method to decrease the number of young people in custody is to restrict incarceration to “youth posing a clear risk to public safety,” the report says.