Judge's program aims to save money ... and teens from getting locked up

12/04/2012 04:44 PM

If crime doesn’t pay, neither does locking up teenagers for what are called status offenses.

Kentucky is losing money in the short- and long-term with its policy of allowing judges to sentence teens to detention centers for offenses that are only a crime because of the offender’s age, such as underage drinking or smoking or habitually skipping school.

One Kentucky judge, Campbell County District Judge Karen Thomas, started a program that would link troubled teens with counseling to try to address root causes of troubles — rather than just sending them to a juvenile detention facility.

Senior correspondent Don Weber reported that Thomas wants to use the savings from her approach to fund that counseling and treatment. Watch:

According to the research — and Kentucky advocates and some judges — sending non-violent but troubled teens to a detention center isn’t even an effective strategy. (See Part 1 of the report on status offenders.)

Kentucky Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown said at a Kentucky Youth Advocates’ forum in October that moving away from sentencing status offenders to detention centers requires a philosophical shift within the judicial system.

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