Reforming DC’s Youth Incarceration System


Greenberg Quinlan Rosner
Campaign for Youth Justice

Downloads

Memo: Reforming DC’s Youth Incarceration System (PDF - 3 K)

Survey Results (PDF - 3 K)

 

Executive Summary

Amidst the recent debate about the placement of arrested youth in the District of Columbia, the public has now weighed in. In a new Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll of 820 registered voters in the District, 77 percent believe youth who are arrested and awaiting trial should be placed in a juvenile facility, not in the DC jail, an adult facility.

Moreover, the public overwhelmingly believes that youth should be rehabilitated and not merely incarcerated. There is a strong consensus that rehabilitating youth helps prevent future crimes and will ultimately save taxpayer money in the long run. Voters believe the most effective ways to rehabilitate youth involve providing them with opportunities to better themselves - vocational training, high school degree assistance, and mental health treatment.

 

Key Findings

  • Overwhelming majority believes that youth should be placed in juvenile facilities when arrested and awaiting trial. More than three out of four DC voters (77 percent) believe that youth who are arrested and awaiting trial should be held in a juvenile facility, rather than being held in DC jail. This contrasts to only 8 percent who believe that these youth should be held in DC jail, while the rest are unsure or believe it depends on the circumstances.
  • Voters believe strongly that DC youth should be rehabilitated and not just incarcerated after committing a crime for a multitude of reasons. DC voters strongly believe that rehabilitating youth yields a stronger benefit than just incarcerating them in a prison system. Among the positive benefits of rehabilitation, voters believe it will save money in the long run (84 percent believe it will save money - 12 percent who believe it will waste tax dollars); prevent future crime (62 percent believe prevents crime - 26 percent believe it does little to prevent crime); that youth can be reintroduced to society as responsible contributors (82 percent - 11 percent who believe they should be held in jail).
  • DC residents believe the most effective ways to rehabilitate youth involves providing them with opportunities to better themselves. DC voters strongly feel that successfully rehabilitating youth hinges on giving them the tools to improve themselves and lead a productive life, rather than merely punishing. Programs like vocational training (77 percent very effective, 95 percent effective) and helping youth earn their high school degrees (76 percent very effective, 95 percent effective) ranked at the top of the programs to rehabilitate youth. Following closely behind were mentoring programs (65 percent very effective, 91 percent effective), ensuring access to mental health treatment (64 percent very effective, 93 percent effective), helping youth receive family counseling (61 percent very effective, 92 percent effective) and helping youth make the transition back to life in the community (61 percent very effective, 91 percent effective) as very effective methods for rehabilitation.

 

Methodology

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted a survey of 820 registered District of Columbia voters between July 31 - August 6, 2008. The sample is subject to a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. This survey was commissioned by Campaign for Youth Justice.