In the 21st century, prison has become a costly response to juvenile delinquency. In 2013, Illinois spent an annual average of $111,000 to keep a youth in juvenile prison.1 In response, in 2005, the state piloted “Redeploy Illinois,” a program that diverts offenders from juvenile prison by providing community-based supervision, case management, and mental health services. In St. Clair, a county of 270,000 people located east of St. Louis, from FY10 to FY13 Children’s Home + Aid provided Redeploy services to over 150 youth who entered juvenile court, including 7 of whom entered the program as an alternative to juvenile detention.
How Does Redeploy Help Kids And Save Taxpayer Money?
In St. Clair County, Children’s Home + Aid Redeploy staff work with the Juvenile Judge to provide youth with community-based services as an alternative to juvenile detention. With Redeploy, St. Clair County sent 30% fewer juveniles to prison from FY10 to FY13. In comparison, the overall number of juveniles sent to prison across Illinois declined by only 14%.2 In St. Clair County alone, this greater reduction is estimated to have saved a net total of approximately $500,000 from FY10 to FY13.3
“Children’s home + aid reduced juvenile detention at a faster rate than the statewide average and saved $500,000 in the process.”
How do we know this? The Illinois Juvenile Justice Department and Illinois Department of Human Services (primary funder of Redeploy Illinois) regularly publish extensive public data on juvenile incarceration rates and costs. In addition, the Illinois Department of Human Services has undertaken multiple studies of Redeploy and its potential cost savings.
Why is this result important? Juvenile detention is a costly and traumatic option for dealing with juvenile delinquency. Through Redeploy, youth who commit crime can receive the services they need, stay out of prison, and save taxpayer money.