Group: intervention better, cheaper than jail for young offenders

Fight Crime representative Eoin Dillon

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A national non-profit is getting support from local law enforcement for its alternative methods of reducing recidivism among young offenders.

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a report Thursday on the effectiveness of intervention instead of incarceration.

The organization tracked young offenders in Virginia in the past three years. According to the Fight Crime report, three out of every four released from a correctional center since 2011 have been re-arrested. The group says its intervention methods can cut those re-offender rates in half, and save from $9,000 to $16,0000 per youth in taxpayer dollars each year. The report says Virginia spends about $150,000 each year for each youth in a correctional center.

“We are going to stay tough on crime, but we also have to be smart on crime,” Police Chief James Cervera said in a statement. “Making more of these programs available will make our communities safer in the years ahead.”

The report recommends four separate intervention programs, depending on the type of young offender:

Aggression Replacement Training (ART) is a low-cost, short-term coaching program for youth with aggressive or disruptive behaviors.

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) provides coaching to youth and parents together, enabling families to work together to replace negative behaviors.

Multisystemic Therapy (MST) provides parent-youth coaching for more serious offenders and also emphasizes ways for schools and community organizations to reinforce positive behaviors that steer youth away from crime.

Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC) is an alternative to residential placement for seriously troubled youth who cannot stay with their parents.

“Juvenile incarceration is not working to reduce re-offending,” Fight Crime representative Eoin Dillon told 10 On Your Side. “Right now, since 2011, three out four youths that were released from commitment were re-arrested within three years.”

The organization says Cervera and Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle will support efforts to get more money from the state legislature for intervention programs.

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