FPI Staff
February 13, 2017

New FPI Report Examines Benefits of Alternative Treatment Models for Florida's Youth Offenders

Incarcerating non-violent youth is costly, detrimental to healthy development

LAKE MARY, FL – The Florida Policy Institute (FPI) today released a report, Community-Based Treatment More Effective, Less Expensive than Incarceration for Youth Offenders, which provides an analysis of the benefits of evidence-based treatment models as an alternative to incarceration. The report urges policymakers to expand initiatives such as Florida’s Redirection Program, which has resulted in positive outcomes for youth offenders and the state’s taxpayers.

“Florida is spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to run state and county youth detention centers, while evidence shows that locking up Florida youth for non-serious or non-violent offenses does little to improve public safety,” said Joe Pennisi, executive director of FPI. “These young people are better served in treatment facilities that are within their communities, where they can receive the assistance they need to become healthy, productive members of society.”

The report found that:

  • Florida’s Black youth are nearly twice as likely as white youth to be incarcerated, and that number continues to grow.
  • The state spent $82.5 million in 2014 to run its 24 state and county youth detention centers.
  • Approximately 35 to 67 percent of incarcerated Florida youth will be rearrested within a year of being released for committing a new misdemeanor or felony crime.
  • Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care, an evidence-based treatment model geared toward high-risk youth with behavioral problems, realizes a return of $14 for every extra dollar spent on treatment.
  • More than 80 percent of youth in alternative incarceration programs remain arrest free.

“The state needs to take steps to reduce its youth prison population,” added Pennisi. “The Florida Policy Institute will continue examining Florida’s juvenile justice system and urging state lawmakers to do what’s right for our residents.”

FPI is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting widespread prosperity through timely, thoughtful and objective analysis of state policy issues affecting economic opportunity.

The Institute provides analysis of state budget and revenue trends and proposes commonsense policy options with the aim of encouraging broad public education, discussion and informed action. The Institute advances fiscal policies that expand economic opportunity for all Florida residents.

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