We are a coalition of young people and youth advocates working to end youth incarceration. Together, we’ve created a vision for, and action steps towards, ending youth incarceration in Pennsylvania once and for all.
The story of youth incarceration in Pennsylvania is one of ineffective spending, racial discrimination1, and unchecked abuse; of children being locked in adult jails; of life-altering trauma.As you read our platform, we want you to remember this: we are not just working to end inhumane, ineffective, and racist practices—we are working to build a new world where every young person has a chance to thrive.
This new world is invested in care, rather than control.
62 ORGANIZATIONS, GROUPS,AND EXPERTS ENDORSE CARE, NOT CONTROL DEMANDS
We have the data.The data tells us that punitive models of control don’t work. Annually, 3,000 children and teens are locked in carceral2 settings where they experience violence instead of justice; neglect instead of guardianship; and stagnation instead of growth. Black and Latinx youth are more likely than White youth to receive punitive sentences such as incarceration or transfer to adult court,3 while White youth are more likely to receive probation4 and diversion programs5 that allow them to remain in their communities, despite similar levels of engagement in delinquent behavior.
We have the resources.The amount spent on youth prisons could be transformative if channeled into care-based resources. Each year, we spend an average of $211,000 to incarcerate a child compared to the $16,000 on average that we spend to educate a child.
And we have both the wisdom and ingenuity needed to establish and maintain alternatives to incarceration that support safety and wellbeing for all of Pennsylvania’s children.
Use posts from our social media toolkit to share these demands.Follow us at @CareNotControl on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
The Village of Arts and HumanitiesYouth Art and Self-empowerment ProjectYouth Sentencing & Reentry ProjectJuvenile Law Center
We are witnessing a detention crisis unfold across Pennsylvania, as demonstrated in places like Philadelphia, Delaware County, and Allegheny County. However, this situation is not due to a lack of beds or facilities for youth. The true crisis is that Pennsylvania incarcerates far too many children in the first place.
Locking kids in cages is not an effective form of addressing harm and creating more community safety. It is a traumatic, dehumanizing, and racist practice that does not help youth take real accountability for their actions and often leads to recidivism. Decades of research proves that holistic, community-based, culturally appropriate supports do work. Young people thrive, heal, and grow when they are cared for, not by being locked up behind bars and treated as if they are irredeemable.
Last year, the Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Task Force made 35 recommendations to reduce out-of-home placement by nearly 40% by 2026. If the Pennsylvania General Assembly had done its job and passed legislation addressing the Task Force’s recommendations, we would not be in this dire situation.
Instead, we would see a reinvestment of funds currently spent on incarceration into effective alternatives in the community, holistic support for young people, children being treated as children, and accountability and transparency for system actors to ensure they are living up to their promises. Sadly, the situation has only worsened, and youth inside juvenile detention and adult jails, where they should never be in the first place, are suffering because adults refuse to put the children’s best interests at the forefront. Pennsylvania’s leaders must do better. Our youth need care, not control.
Care, Not ControlThe Village of Arts and HumanitiesYouth Art & Self-empowerment Project (YASP) Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP) Juvenile Law CenterAdvocates for Youth JusticeAdvocates Transforming Youth Systems Education Law CenterAbolitionist Law CenterThe Sentencing Project1HoodDelco ResistsThe Delco Coalition for Prison Reform
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