Our View

In-home intensive probation a positive change


America is no longer the top dog in many areas it was once dominant in due to a long, lingering recession, the emergence of other countries around the globe and other factors, but there is one list the U.S. continues to top easily.

The number of people incarcerated.

According to a March 13 article on “The Economist” website, the U.S. had about 2.4 million people locked up in some sort of facility — county or city jail, state or federal prison or juvenile detention facility.

Statistics from 2008 show that the U.S. had nearly 600,000 more people incarcerated than China – a country of 1.3 billion, more than four times the population of the U.S. When it comes to the number of persons imprisoned per 100,000, the only country remotely near the U.S. is Russia, which has 122 people fewer per 100,000.

The Economist article says that incarcerated children are less likely to graduate from high school and more likely to spend time in prison.

That is why we are glad Arenac County’s probate court will be sending fewer children to juvenile detention centers.

True, there will always be some bad apples. Some folks, no matter what their age, deserve to be put in prison or a detention center. But the fact of the matter is, putting someone behind bars does not always guarantee rehabilitation, and, perhaps even more pertinent, it costs a lot of money.

Even by reorganizing staff and paying higher wages, the probate court’s decision to implement in-home intensive probation is expected to save the county about $26,000 in its first year, and Probate Judge Richard Vollbach said the savings could be higher. Last time we checked, Arenac County — or any county that we know of — was not sitting on a pile of money ready to be spent on a whim.

In-home care saves the state money, too. Incarceration of juveniles is so expensive for the state government, the state reimburses counties with in-home intensive programs 50 percent of their costs.

Some people will be beyond rehabilitation via probation or other means, and those people, especially adults, deserve to be locked up. That’s why we need facilities such as Standish Max, which, as we know all too well, the state inexplicably closed in 2009. But in a time when governments should be pinching every penny, we believe it is definitely a good thing to send fewer juveniles off on the path of recidivism.

That is why we applaud the probate court for implementing the program, and believe that it is a positive thing for the taxpayers’ wallet, and the troubled youth and families who will be most affected by the program.


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