Governor Tom Corbett unveiled a new plan that will invest $10 million into prevention and intervention strategies for at-risk youth and juvenile offenders.
The strategy came out of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, established in 2012 to evaluate ways to enhance public safety. It focuses on the Department of Public Welfare's Youth Development Centers.
"If we can prevent at-risk youth from becoming offenders, we can reduce the likelihood that they will spend time behind the bars of our county and state prisons, costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year," said Corbett.
The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Juvenile Court Judges' Commission and the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) worked collaboratively on the plan.
It will redirect investments into prevention and intervention programs for at-risk children, risk assessment and targeted interventions with high-risk juvenile offenders, and training programs for juvenile offenders that will help move them into employment.
The plan entails the closure of the New Castle Youth Development Center, a secure 100-bed facility for delinquent boys. Referrals to the center have drastically decreased over the last several years, with only 31 juveniles housed there as of Jan. 1.
The facility costs more than $19.4 million annually, at a cost of $725 per day per child. The closure of this center on Feb. 15 and relocation of its residents will result in $73 million in savings over five years.
Under a larger strategy to achieve better outcomes for Pennsylvania's youth, the initiative will continue to focus on the specific needs of children by using more effective treatment and prevention methods toward the goal of reducing recidivism.
This will include assessing the individual risks and needs of each delinquent youth, ensure community protection, and identify a continuum of high-quality, innovative services for youthful offenders.