Cost of incarcerating youth in LA County soars to $233,600 a year

Posted by Debbie L. Sklar |
February 23, 2016 in Crime

juvenile hall la countyA Los Angeles County audit has found that the average cost of incarcerating a youth has soared to $233,600 a year, significantly higher than other jurisdictions.

In contrast, the annual cost was $204,400 per youth in Chicago; in San Diego, it was $127,750; and in Houston, it was $84,680, the study found, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

“There is so much waste,” Jacqueline Caster, one of 15 members of the L.A. County Probation Commission, told The Times. “And no one pays attention or cares.”

The high cost of incarcerating youths is generating debate and putting pressure on probation officials to address the problem. Youth crime began dropping in the mid-1990s, as overall crime rates began declining in many U.S. cities.

At its height, the L.A. County Probation Department’s juvenile halls housed 2,000; last month, it was down to 621, according to The Times. Juvenile arrests have dropped 30 percent in L.A. County since 2012 alone, according to a Rand Corp. study.

Still, staffing has remained relatively steady, while the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has resisted closing the aging network of three juvenile halls and 18 camps or reducing the overall staff as the ratio of employees to incarcerated juveniles grows.

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