28 January 2020 |

Detention for runaway children the wrong approach

Kansas Action for Children
January 28, 2020

Kansas Action for Children opposes HB 2445, a misguided bill that would allow children who run away to be placed in a juvenile detention facility for 24 hours. Research has shown “any intervention that places youths within a deviant group therefore risks exacerbating and consolidating their antisocial behavior.”[1]

In 2016, Kansas took a strong step forward toward improving its youth justice system. Through SB 367, we have seen a reduction in youth incarceration and increased investment in community-based alternatives. These evidence- and community-based alternatives cost less and are a more successful way to deal with youth involved in the justice system.

We must continue to work toward having fewer Kansas children interact with the juvenile justice system, particularly youth who have not committed, or are suspected of, a crime. HB 2445 would take our state backward.  

SB 367 was a significant step forward to decrease youth incarceration, while creating funding streams for alternatives to incarceration that decrease recidivism and keep youth in their communities. That legislation worked to reduce costs related to incarcerating children. HB 2445 could increase costs by temporarily housing more youth in juvenile detention facilities. In Kansas, it can cost $112,128 per year to imprison a child (or roughly $310 per day), but only $9,960 per year for public education (or $27 per day).[2]

[1] Gatti, U., Tremblay, R.E., and Vitaro, F. (2009). “Iatrogenic effects of juvenile justice.” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 50(8): 991-998.

[2] Youth First. Youth Incarceration in Kansas. https://www.nokidsinprison.org/explore/kansas/?section=race-interactive

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