SPIRIT in Action
This scenario happens every day, all across America
A 15-year-old youth skips school, steals from family members, and uses alcohol and illegal drugs and is picked up by the authorities and placed in juvenile detention. Parents are upset, frustrated, and at a complete loss about what to do. Their child is in detention and waits for services that may or may not be available in their community.
Similar stories occur at an alarming rate in our nation’s community’s every day and the results come at a hefty price. According to the May 2009 Justice Policy Institute report on The Costs of Confinement, state-funded juvenile detention costs average approximately $240 per day or $87,600 per year for housing and care of one youth in custody.
State-funded Juvenile Detention – Costs of Confinement
This report also indicates that a “majority of youth are held for nonviolent crimes which can be managed safely and more effectively in the community”. With SPIRIT this can also be accomplished at a fraction of the cost. It also states that “youth who are imprisoned have higher recidivism rates than youth who remain in communities” and “the most effective programs at reducing recidivism rates and promoting positive outcomes for youth are administered in the community, outside the criminal or juvenile justice systems.”
With SPIRIT in Action …
An officer is able to work with offending youth and their parents to make an immediate referrals to treatment, avoiding detention altogether. SPIRIT enables the officer to quickly gather and enter relevant details for the youth (name, age, gender, location, risk factors, and interests) and, in just minutes, receive a list of available service providers and treatment options that best match the young person’s needs. The officer can display this list to the youth and parents and working together, they can determine a course of action and the officer can make an on-the-spot referral to the selected service provider.
Service providers receive immediate notification of the referral, along with contact information for both the referring party and the individual being referred. Service providers are then responsible for responding to the referral by accepting, declining, or requesting more information. This creates greater accountability and better communication at every step in the process. If service is declined for any reason, the referring party is alerted and can make another referral.
SPIRIT provides service providers with an efficient and reliable way to communicate with the referring party which facilitates greater continuity of care for our most vulnerable at-risk populations.
 The Costs of Confinement: Why good Juvenile Justice Policies Make Good Fiscal Sense, Justice Policy Institute, May, 2009.