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Senate bill could reform the juvenile justice system in Kansas

The juvenile justice system is one that many people wish didn't need to exist. The problem with the system, according to one expert, is that too much money is funneled into punishing juveniles and not enough money is spent on trying to keep them out of the juvenile justice system to begin with. In Kansas, that could change if Senate Bill 367 is passed.

The bill would provide funding for solutions that are community based. That would mean that juveniles could have the help they need to stay out of trouble before they are incarcerated. This could help to stop juveniles from becoming adults who are involved in the criminal justice system.

The rise in juvenile justice punishment came around in the mid-1990s when juvenile crimes began to rise. That led to the prediction of superpredators coming from juvenile detention centers.

Juveniles who get into legal trouble sometimes need help that doesn't involve incarceration. They might need activities, mentoring, or employment assistance. Those activities were all once funded, but funding has move largely to incarceration instead of rehabilitation. As it stands, juvenile justice systems in this country largely mimic the adult criminal justice system.

It is estimated that it costs around $250 per day to keep a juvenile incarcerated in Kansas. Instead of spending that on incarceration, which could lead to the juvenile reoffending, that money could be spent on prevention and skill building for juveniles.

As of now, juveniles are likely to be incarcerated at staggering rates. African-American males at a rate of one in three, Latino males at a rate of one in six, and white males at a rate of one in 17. This means that anyone in the juvenile justice system needs to fight against the charges.

Source:, "New law provides opportunity for change in Kansas juvenile justice, speaker says," Erin Mathews, Sep. 20, 2016

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