Youth incarceration rate decreasing in Mississippi - - Jackson, MS

Youth incarceration rate decreasing in Mississippi

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The teenage incarceration rate is decreasing in Mississippi.

Mississippi is being called a "comeback" state by reducing the juvenile population behind bars.

Advocates say it is critical today's youth become productive adults.

Three teens are currently locked up for a business burglary and charged with being apart of a ring where 11 shotguns were stolen in Jackson. Most recently, a 13-year-old was arrested for rape, kidnapping and armed carjacking, along with a 16-year-old.

While these reports might be shocking, statistics show during the past decade the juvenile incarceration rate has decreased by an astonishing 40 percent.

"A decade ago things looked much different in Mississippi. Particularly when the Oakley Training School and the Columbia Training School were being used," said Southern Poverty Law Center's Mississippi Director, Jody Owens. "Currently we know the Columbia Training School is closed. Oakley's population is down to an all time low and even detention, county detention numbers are also continuously decreasing as we use alternatives to incarceration."

Owens says that instead of focusing on locking kids up in jail, which is a precursor to sending them to the adult prison system, the key is getting children the help they need.

"Things like home arrest, ankle monitoring, probation, things that give kids what they need most, an opportunity to have to pay the permanent cost for a mistake that they've made and also give them a positive influence in their life to succeed."

Southern Poverty Law Center is hosting the National Juvenile Justice Network conference right now in the Capital City.

The event, normally held in Washington D.C., has brought people in from across the U.S. who are here to focus on keeping kids out of prison.

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