Misguided juvenile cuts
The Dec. 31 article “Teens accused in killings confound trend” calls attention to the recent spate of juvenile homicides in Raleigh and Durham and questions the effectiveness of the N.C. Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Despite being viewed as a national model for integrating prevention services and graduated sanctions for juvenile offenders, the DJJDP has been moved into the Department of Public Safety and downsized to a Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Its budget has been greatly reduced, and funding for county-based Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils has been removed from DJJ control. Court services have been sharply reduced, and DJJDP’s model correctional facility, the Edgecombe Youth Development Center, is now closed.
These developments are misguided. Therapeutic services provided in the state correctional facilities and residential community programs have proven effective in reducing recidivism for high-risk offenders. Along with prevention and court services across the state that have reduced delinquency, these programs have saved the state millions of dollars.
Given these developments, we should not be surprised to see an increase in juvenile violence. We should all work together to restore the North Carolina juvenile justice system to its prior level of funding and effectiveness.
Buddy Howell, Ph.D.