The Effect of Juvenile Justice Reform

A productive and efficient juvenile justice system creates a stronger workforce, reduces ongoing expenses related to incarceration, and helps kids avoid pitfalls that could keep them from achieving their potential. The juvenile justice system in Arkansas is in desperate
need of reform. If left untouched, it will continue to have severe consequences for the economy and workforce development of the state.

While the rest of the country is moving away from incarceration of juveniles unless absolutely necessary, most of Arkansas continues to rely on outdated practices that focus more on revenge than on outcomes. This hurts not only the youthful offenders, but the communities and our state as well. Nationwide, states are striving to make services for youth offenders more constructive and rehabilitative. Meanwhile, Arkansas lags behind even our Southern counterparts. In the last decade, we were the only Southern state with increasing rates of juvenile incarceration. Improvements to the juvenile justice system in Arkansas will have positive ripple effects through our economy, our state budget, and the welfare of our kids.

Written in collaboration with our summer policy intern Nathan Abraham, our latest juvenile justice report offers a college student’s take on the many economic benefits of juvenile justice reform in Arkansas.

Also, check out this companion infographic!