Detention should be last resort for
THE ISSUE: Governor
Lingle is considering a program of community-based facilities for
detention of delinquent youths.
Last month's temporary transfer of seven girls from
the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility to a detention center in Utah has
drawn attention to the services available for delinquent young people.
Governor Lingle says she intends to put youth correctional facilities on
neighbor islands and consult with experts about successful programs on
the mainland. While more detention facilities may be needed, experts may
advise the governor to focus on intervention programs that don't include
detention. A national panel has concluded that intensive counseling for
families and young people at risk is more promising. The seven girls
were transferred to the Salt Lake Valley Detention Center in late
September and are scheduled to be returned to Hawaii on Nov. 28. The
transfer allows some boys at their overcrowded facilities to be moved
into the girls' unit.
Lingle said one of the problems is that youngsters who
are sentenced to just a few days confinement are mixed in with long-term
inmates. “You are having a mixing of population that you shouldn't
have,” she said. A 13-expert panel convened by the National Institutes
of Health agrees. The panel concluded yesterday that boot camps, group
detention centers and other “get tough” programs bring together young
people with violent tendencies who then teach each other how to commit
more crime. “The more sophisticated (teens) instruct the more naive in
precisely the behaviors that the intervener wishes to prevent,” it said.
One program cited by the panel as effective is a therapy program of 12
one-hour sessions over three months to be attended by youth and their
families. Another successful one is a community-based clinical treatment
program, with 60 hours of counseling over four months, that targets
violent and chronic offenders at risk of being taken away from their
Detention should be a last resort. Before subjecting a
child to a situation that may lead to more crime, the state should
exhaust ways to provide alternative services that are needed to prevent
the child from engaging in further criminal activity.
18 October 2004