Illinois residents may be interested to find out that a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts has found that juveniles who participate in community-based programs rather than being placed in residential facilities after committing a crime may be less likely to reoffend. Some states may pay as much as $100,000 or more per youth in a residential facility each year, so the community programs may be cheaper as well as more effective.

Researchers speculate that one possible reason for the results is that removing juveniles from their home involves disrupting some of the positive bonds they may have with family and friends. Furthermore, a residential facility may have a tendency to expose less serious offenders to higher-risk youths who might exert a poor influence.

While the policy director for Pew’s Public Safety Performance Project cautioned that it was not being suggested that residential facilities were never appropriate, research does seem to point to other methods as more effective for the majority of young offenders. Experts also caution that the approach must include services such as education and access to family counseling. The program must focus on youths who are at-risk and politicians must be willing to fund them, but as the director points out, the same amount of money that is used to fund residential facilities can stretch much further in community programs.

Parents of juveniles who are facing criminal charges may wish to consult an attorney because juvenile crime may carry serious consequences. However, there might also be a number of options available for juvenile offenders. Juveniles may also have particular concerns such as working to ensure that a police record does not follow them into adulthood.