Local Connection: Juvenile Justice System

By: Rick Blangiardi

A recent report on the juvenile justice system was eye-opening, to say the least.

The good news was that juvenile arrests fell 28 percent and the number of youth...

Admitted to the hawaii youth correctional facility fell 41 percent.

But the surprising and disturbing news is that those at the facility are staying longer. Back in 2004, the average stay at h-y-c-f was 2.5 months. Now it is 7.2 months. What's worse, three quarters of those who leave the facility will be back within three years.

Each young person housed at the facility costs taxpayers nearly $200,000 a year.

As the report correctly points out, much work needs to be done. One recommendation is that youth comitted to the facility for misdemeanors (nearly two-thirds of first offenses) should no longer be housed there.

Alternatives include more resources for substance abuse, which make up an astounding 80 percent of all cases in the juvenile justice system.

Other recommendations involve more access to mental health treatment, a better process to have young offenders reenter society and the strengthening of probation practices.

We commend the working group of judges, law enforcement officials, legislators and educators who know that protecting and rehabilitating troubled youth is an important for the future of society.

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