It has been estimated that on any given day more than 70,000 young people are held in juvenile detention facilities across the United States. This is the highest rate of any developed nation. According to a recent a study, jail time actually teaches our youth how to be better criminals, rather than teaching them to be productive members of society.
When children and teens are sentenced to jail, they usually have a more difficult time reentering society than those who are given alternative punishments such as work-release programs and boot camp.
According to Children's Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman, the so called “cradle-to-prison pipeline” is harmful to juveniles and to society as a whole.
“This is an impending national catastrophe that affects every one of us,” she said.
Those in opposition to sentencing our youth to jail, including Edelman, are arguing that it is time to have a paradigm change to move away from punishment such as jail time as a first resort.
As a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, Vitaly Sigal has extensive experience representing juveniles accused of committing crimes. He works hard to get his young clients alternative punishments rather than jail time and works with families to help teach young people that a life in and out of jail should not be in their future.
Even when young people are guilty of committing crimes, jail time isn't always the answer. We should be focusing on helping these young people to change their ways so they can become productive members of society rather than hauling them off to jail where they are surrounded by other criminals.