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Does jail time actually help kids?

When juvenile offenders are given jail terms, the goal often seems to be correcting their behavior by making them never want to go to jail again. If they know time behind bars is waiting for them, they’ll make better decisions to avoid it, the theory says. But does this actually work?

According to some experts, it does not work at all. They say that children who break the law are not helped by longer jail sentences.

Just look at this staggering statistic: In the two or three years after the arrests are made, 70 to 80 percent of the young offenders are picked back up and arrested again for different crimes. The vast majority not only turn back to crime, but they do it in about 24 months.

To look into it, one study examined about 1,300 offenders to see if perhaps increasing the sentence—and thereby making the children more frightened to commit another crime, rather than giving them a light sentence—would make a difference. Eve that did not impact the rates.

This is a fairly big issue, as there are around 80,000 kids in prison in the United States. If the statistics hold true, about 64,000 of them are going to be arrested again within three years of being released. More than anything, this just creates a cycle that follows children who grow up behind bars.

That doesn’t mean nothing is going to be done when kids in Alabama break the law. However, it does show just how important it is for them to know all of their legal options, as jail may not be the only choice—or the best one.

Source: Take Part, “Tossing Kids in Jail for Decades Doesn’t Help Them Stay Out of Trouble,” Rebecca McCray, accessed May 09, 2016

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