BY ANDREW WHITWORTH & MORGAN BARNEY
Where were you when you were 13? What were you doing when you were 16? For 24,000 children in America right now, the answer is simple: serving time in a youth prison.
A youth prison is typically an isolated, locked facility with 100+ beds that has many of the same features as an adult prison: razor wire, cellblocks, armed guards, and solitary confinement. While the number of incarcerated child in the U.S. has dropped in the last decade as states opt for therapeutic and restorative community-based models, approximately 80 youth prisons remain, holding 24,000 children between the ages of 13-18.
Youth prisons are not restorative, they perpetuate racial and socio-economic inequalities, and they fail to uphold public justice. A system that warehouses children created in the image of God is not right or just. As Christians, we need consider the purpose of punishment and the importance of rehabilitation. Youth prisons must be closed. The lives and futures of many young people depend on it.
WHERE ARE YOUTH PRISONS LOCATED?
This map shows where youth prisons in the United States are located. Blue indicates prisons for boys, pink indicates prisons for girls, and purple indicates prisons for girls and boys.
Graphic Courtesy of the Youth First Initiative.
There are 80 youth prisons in the United States holding children age 13-18.
Youth prisons are operated by states, not counties, and are typically isolated, locked facilities with 100+ beds, razor wire, cell blocks, solitary confinement, armed guards, and other prison-like features.
Youth prisons are places where control and punishment are the priority, not rehabilitation.
All citizens, and particularly Christian citizens, must recognize the injustice of warehousing children created in the image of God with no regard for restoration and rehabilitation
Closing youth prisons and providing restorative alternatives must be a policy priority for justice-minded citizens