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It Costs a Quarter-Million Dollars a Year to Incarcerate a Youth or $1,300 for a Prevention Program

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Photo by me_lissamon via Flickr

Photo by me_lissamonvia Flickr
California spends $10 billion on incarceration -- that's about $3 billion more than it does on the UC and CSU education systems. To jail an adult, it costs about $46,000 a year. A minor costs even more: a staggering $252,000 a year. These numbers are the reason Congressman Bobby Scott (D - VA) is working to pass a bill ( HR 3846) that could inject $2.9 billion into gang prevention, which he says is much more cost efficient with yearly costs running an average of $1,300 a year.

Scott's Youth Promise (Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education) Act (YPA) is a bill that seeks to increase funding for community- based gang prevention and intervention programs in poverty stricken areas.

The after school and educational programs that would benefit from YPA intends to reduce violence and youth crimes by giving them a healthy alternative. Organizations like Homeboy Industries have sought to do similar things but have had issues with funding and have been so close to shutting down that almost all volunteers now staff them.

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Last year the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution supporting the bill. Now City Councilmember Tony Cardenas is working to bring attention to the bill and published a promotional video yesterday to generate publicity for the bill and an online petition, which will launch tomorrow.

His promotional video uses celebrities such as Robin Wright, Jim Brown, and Troy Vincent who attest “first hand” to the power of a second chance. The video has been posted on YouTube and other social medias in hopes of inspiring viewers to sign the petition and gain over 100,000 signatures. Cardenas hopes to use the signatures to push the bill through and make the Youth Promise Act a reality.

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