A new report by the Justice Policy Institute pegs the true cost of incarcerating a juvenile in New Jersey at $535.36 a day, or $196,133 a year. Although it is one of the more expensive states in the country for juvenile jailing — Louisiana spends only $127.89 a day or $46,662 annually — New Jersey does pay out less than many other states. The most expensive is New York, where it costs $966.20 per diem or $352,663 per juvenile per year.
The report concluded that these confinements are, for the most part, inefficient, harmful, and cost the public too much. They also don’t reduce the rate of recidivism. Instead, the report recommended that the public shift its emphasis to community-based options. Incarceration should be a last resort.
The report also noted that the juvenile crime rate has dropped significantly in the past 10 years, as has the rate of incarceration of youths being housed in juvenile jails and the crime rate.