Providing early intervention strategies is a solution that is smarter and safer for all Indigenous communities. The government is currently relying on incarcerating Indigenous children as a form of punishment and solution which only causes recidivism and weaker communities. This has been shown in the statistics over the past few years. Indigenous children make up only 2.2% of the population and 59% of children in juvenile detention are of an Indigenous background. Indigenous children also have a re-offending rate of 70%. This staggering rate shows that locking up children is ineffective and it is also very costly. The cost to send children to juvenile detention adds up to almost $236 million a year and the money spent on this has a poor outcome as it does not address how and why children end up in detention centres.
Investing the money and resources into early intervention strategies and justice reinvestment can be much more useful as it tackles the root cause of the problem. As mentioned in our previous blogs we addressed the factors that have led to a high incarceration rate. One of the main issues that have caused this crisis was due to social and economic disadvantages. By providing early intervention strategies such as youth programs this issue can be attended to, thus decreasing the crime and prison rate. Youth programs that aim to educate Indigenous children and provide social skills can be highly beneficial. By offering an education and social skills, Indigenous children will be able to develop the necessary skills to get a job and this will reduce poverty-related crimes such as theft, breaking and entering and substance abuse.
Investing into communities is, therefore, the most ideal solution to tackling this issue. Local Indigenous communities know how to provide the most appropriate programs for their own community and turning to youth programs will stop children from being separated from their families and culture.