Money can drive decisions. Last week, the Juvenile Code Task Force heard from two states about how they’ve shifted money to remove the unintended financial incentives of youth being sent to state-run detention facilities. While the logistics in our state will be different, Kentucky could also benefit from creating financial incentives for serving youth in their communities instead of locking them up.
Ohio created the program RECLAIM Ohio because they knew research supported keeping youth in their communities and providing appropriate treatment and programming. To expand options available to local judges, they created the program to encourage counties to develop or contract for community-based services. Essential counties get a set dollar amount, based on a formula, and credits are deducted when state beds are used (except for certain serious exceptions). As a result, Ohio has seen a 64% drop in the youth population sent to the Department of Youth Services.
Illinois also shared the outcomes from the financial incentive program, Redeploy Illinois. The program provides financial support to counties to offer services to youth in their communities. Counties agree to reduce the number of commitments as a condition of receiving the funds. Since 2005, Illinois has seen an average reduction of 56% in commitments of youth to state facilities.
Judge Timberlake, the retired judge from Illinois who spoke, summed it up well, saying we are here for public safety – fiscal responsibility and creating positive outcomes for individual kids creates public safety.