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Youth and incarceration levels

Crowding and budgets are among the issues that can affect detention facilities in Florida and other states. In recent years, these pressures may have contributed to alternative solutions being formulated for dealing with various individuals facing charges for legal infractions. One of the positive outcomes is that youth detentions have dropped dramatically. Although the United States still has the highest rate of juvenile detention in the world, these rates decreased by 41 percent between 1995 and 2010. The number of youths in detention facilities on a given day had dropped by more than 34 percent during that period as well.

Two particularly important notes associated with decreasing youth incarceration levels may point to additional benefits that might be achieved with successful efforts to further decrease these numbers. First, the United States has not passed any laws or enacted any guidelines to manage this issue on a national level. These changes have occurred more because of state issues that led to the need for solutions to overcrowding and high operating costs for detention facilities. Additionally, the statistics indicate that lower juvenile containment levels have not created any adverse effect in terms of juvenile crimes. Those who present a serious danger to their communities continue to be held, but minor offenses are treated with more compassionate penalties.

Statistics indicate that while youth detention rates have declined among some ethnic groups, black and Hispanic youths tend to be detained at a higher level than white youths. As these issues are examined, authorities at various levels may be encouraged to propose further implementation of policies that will keep more youths out of the nation's detention facilities.

A youth being charged does not imply guilt. A young person is still entitled to present a vigorous defense when charged with an offense. A lawyer might help a young client by evaluating the details related to the charges and identifying problems with protocol. In some cases, a lawyer might help to work out a plea deal.

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