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A Black boy born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance, a Latino boy a 1 in 6 chance and a White boy a 1 in 17 chance of going to prison in his lifetime. In 2013, approximately 54,000 children were incarcerated in youth prisons. Children of color make up 68 percent of those in residential detention: 40 percent are Black, 23 percent Hispanic, 2 percent American Indian, and 1 percent Asian. 32 percent are White youth.
States spend about three times as much money per prisoner as per public school pupil. Unless we focus our efforts on early intervention and prevention, rather than punishment, we are robbing thousands of youth each year of their futures and our country of vital human resources.
We must reduce detention and incarceration by increasing investment in prevention and early intervention strategies, such as access to quality early childhood development and education services and to the health and mental health care children need for healthy development.