WireTap Magazine has a great interview with Liz Ryan of the Campaign for Youth Justice. CYFJ argues that incarcerating minors does not work (does not reduce recidivism, does not deter crime), is very unsafe, and is unfair.
According to the California Attorney General's Criminal Justice Statistics Center, in 2005 the state of California incarcerated juveniles at a rate of 23.8 per 100,000 at-risk population, compared to 131.9 for adults. In particular, in 2005 California arrested juveniles for drugs at a rate of 486.9 per 100,000 at-risk population, versus 1173.5 adults.
Minors are arguably the most vulnerable members of our prison population. In a recent post, California Corrections Crisis points out that Zimbabwe has just decided to release all minors from all prisons to reduce overcrowding. Since California is having trouble finding 40,000 inmates to release, perhaps we should consider releasing all inmates under 18 years age.