Keeping Youth Closer to Home Yields Better Results

A new report shows significant decreases in the number of young people confined in state prisons, particularly in Texas, where the state legislature began passing a number of juvenile justice reforms since 2007.

Released by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the report is called Closer to Home: An Analysis of the State and Local Impact of the Texas Youth Justice Reforms. It takes a comprehensive and unprecedented look at 1.3 million individual case records, spanning eight years, and drawn from three state agencies, concluding that state investments in community-based supervision and programs for youth have been very effective.

Among the report’s findings:

• Youth incarcerated in state-run facilities are 21 percent more likely to be re-arrested than youth who remain under supervision closer to home.

• Youth released from state juvenile correctional facilities are three times more likely to commit a felony than similar youth under community supervision.

• There has been a dramatic decrease in the youth population in state-secure facilities, specifically a 65 percent reduction between 2007 and 2012. As a result, state spending was cut by hundreds of millions of dollars, and much of those savings were reinvested into county-administered juvenile probation departments.

• During the same time period, juvenile arrests declined by 33 percent, for the lowest rate in 30 years. And nine juvenile correctional facilities have been closed, proving that fewer youth can be locked up while crime is also reduced.

Although the Public Welfare Foundation did not support this study, the Council of State Governments Justice Center is a grantee. Other Foundation grantees, including the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, Texas Appleseed, and Texans Care for Children, advocated for the state reforms that are discussed in the report.

To see the full report, click here.


The Public Welfare Foundation supports efforts to advance justice and opportunity for people in need. These efforts honor the Foundation’s core values of racial equity, economic well-being, and fundamental fairness for all. The Foundation looks for strategic points where its funds can make a significant difference and improve lives through policy and system reform that results in transformative change. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter or on Facebook.

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