Rather than putting more money into the state juvenile facilities in rural outposts where it is difficult to find qualified staff, advocates said lawmakers should put more funding into local programs that keep youths out of the troublesome lockups and closer to family and support systems in their homes. And they should hold local officials accountable for ensuring that programs effectively serve juveniles so they don't wind up in state custody.
"It will guarantee that very few kids go into state facilities at all and that those few kids can have the resources they need to be successful and, most importantly, be safe," said Elizabeth Henneke, a policy attorney at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, a nonprofit that advocates for juvenile justice reforms.
Locking someone up for nonviolent, drug-related offenses does little to help them, said Elizabeth Henneke, a policy analyst for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. Keeping them in prison, where there are "no bills, no stress of job, no stress of family, that doesn't translate well when they get home because additional stressors come in."
"Do these folks need to be locked up for the fact that person abused drugs, or can they stay in their community and participate with substance abuse counseling, get the treatment they need in an effective way?" Henneke asked.
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