Juveniles in Residential Placement, 2013, Sarah Hockenberry, U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2016)

White Papers and Reports

This survey from the Office of Juvnile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the U.S. Census Bureau details the characteristics of youth held for delinquency and status offenses in public and private residential facilities in every state, current through 2013. It does not include federal facilities, facilities exclusively for drug or mental health treatment or for abused/neglected youth, or juveniles incarcerated or placed in adult facilities. Moreover, while data is separated by multiple demographic factors, limitations to the study include gender analysis and discussion in strictly binary terms, and no data collection or discussion of sexual orientation.

Findings show a decline of roughly 50% in the number of young people held in out-of-home placement from 1997 to 2013, with relative declines greater for committed youth (post-adjudication) than detained youth. However, young people of color accounted for 68% of those in placement in 2013, and they were detained longer than white young people, although there was virtually no difference in time of commitment. Black youth had a commitment rate more than 4 times higher than that for white youth, and a detention rate nearly 6 times higher.

Finally, the report acknowledges economic factors might play a role in the declining number of young people in out-of-home placement, as lower cost options such as probation, day treatment, or other community-based sanctions are employed. This underscores the argument that there are better and more affordable options for helping system-involved and marginalized youth than out-of-home placement.