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Hampton Roads Community News

Panel Highlights Youth Incarceration In Virginia

VIRGINIA BEACH

Experts on juvenile justice reform in Virginia recently joined together for a panel discussion at Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach. The event was organized by the Regent School of Law Child Advocacy Practicum, the Washington Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta, ART 180, and RISE for Youth, a newly launched nonpartisan campaign in support of community alternatives to youth incarceration.

Panel members with backgrounds ranging from law enforcement to academia, youth services and juvenile justice law discussed the value of transforming Virginia’s system away from large prisons and towards community-based alternatives.

Regent University Law Professor Kathleen McKee moderated the discussion and panelists included Sheriff Gabe Morgan of Newport News, Linda Fillipi of Tidewater Youth Services Commission, and Gina Lyles of ART 180. The event followed the launch of RISE for Youth earlier this fall and increased discussion across the state about reforming the state’s juvenile justice system.

Virginia tops all states in the nation in referring students from school to law enforcement and additional research has shown that youth prisons contribute to high rates of reoffending, wasteful taxpayer spending and disproportionate impacts on youth of color.

“I run a facility at which I don’t believe children should be,” said Sheriff Gabe Morgan of Newport News. “Plus, prevention is cheaper than corrections. We spend roughly $150,000 to house one youth in prison, yet we spend $8,000-9,000 on K-12 education [in Newport News]. If we keep 10 juveniles out of the system, that’s $1.5 million more that can go to a school system or a non-profit that supports kids.”

The event marked the culmination of an arts forum at the University, featuring artistic work by youth in the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center through the Performing Statistics Project exhibit.

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For more information, visit www.riseforyouth.org.

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