When adolescents commit a crime, they're more likely to commit a more serious offense later in life, so juvenile correctional centers are working to combat youth incarceration as a whole.
Nationwide, rates have dropped 60% over the last decade -- and even more so in North Dakota.
North Dakota's justice reform efforts have led to a 69% decline in youth incarceration rates over the past 10 years.
The Division of Juvenile Services has offices in eight cities across the state to help youth through a variety of community-based services.
Juvenile services says at risk youth who are instantly incarcerated instead of receiving more personalized services in a safe environment tend to later commit felonies. Their goal is to develop a plan tailored to the needs of each child, whether that's in the comfort of their own home, in a hospital or psychiatric facility, or in a secure correctional facility, to keep them from becoming repeat offenders.
“Not only did the kids that were treated in the community do better, but fewer of them, when they had a problem, had a serious problem,” said the Director of the Division of Juvenile Services Lisa Bjergaard.
Juvenile corrections specialists are assigned to troubled youth on a case-by-case basis and develop individualized plans for their treatment and rehabilitation.
The division plans to ask for policy changes, hoping to separate the delinquency statute from the criminal code, then separate the maltreatment statute, as well as create a source of prevention funding.