response to the public's misconception about youth crime,
there has been a lot of discussion about the need to expand
the construction of juvenile prisons. The fact, however,
is that juvenile crime is at its lowest rate since 1980.
Moreover, most young people are detained for non-violent
offenses like truancy, running away from home and property
offenses. Contrary to a few sensationalized news reports,
there is no youth "crime wave."
Yet, on any given day here in Georgia, over 2,500 children
are locked up. Jailed youth are raped, beaten up, attempting
suicide, receiving inadequate medical attention, suffering
mentally, getting little to no education or rehabilitative
services - and the list goes on. In short, troubled youngsters
across the state are being abused by a disgraceful juvenile
justice system that is doing nothing to improve their
lives. The state builds more prisons to provide jobs for
local residents not to rehabilitate troubled youngsters.
to the U.S. Dept. of Justice report, Georgia's juvenile
facilities lack enough space to separate younger, more
vulnerable youths from older, potentially more predatory
youths. In one incident, a child held for violation of
probation was housed with three youths accused of armed
robbery and aggravated assault and was beaten and sexually
assaulted without intervention from the staff.
As a result of low levels of staffing, in another case,
a male staff member convinced the only other staff member
on the shift to take a nap and then sexually assaulted
a 14-year old female resident. We must stop hurting our
The Georgia Alliance for Children wants Governor Perdue and the State Legislature to place greater emphasis on
community-based prevention and correctional strategies
by redirecting $50 million of the Department of Juvenile
Justice's $250 million budget towards community programming.
If we spend more time working with the non-violent kids
at home, in school and in supervised programs structured
to meet their needs. We can protect these children and
make better use of public funds.