B. Building Capacity
In stark contrast to a capacity-building approach,105 juvenile incarceration has
been shown to have extremely negative impacts on human capital formation, yielding
few to no long-term gains for an approach with such a high price tag.106 Although
punitive strategies succeed at temporarily removing people who pose a legitimate threat
to public safety,107 they also deepen an individual’s dependence on a criminal identity.108
Additionally, punitive strategies drain vital public resources from human development
systems such as schools.109 As a result, punitive strategies do little to improve the
infrastructure of neighborhoods or the capacities of the people living within them.110
In contrast to traditional punitive approaches, Strengthening Chicago’s Youth
(“SCY”), a new public health-oriented initiative, has emerged in Chicago with “the goal
of educating and raising awareness on effective ways to reduce and prevent youth
violence.”111 Based at Lurie Children’s Hospital, SCY promotes a “Focus on Five”
platform that calls for:
• Sustained investment in children and youth[;]
• Equitable access to high quality mental health services[;]
• Common sense approaches to gun violence prevention[;]
• Juvenile justice system that reflects what we know about
105 See generally MARTHA C. NUSSBAUM, CREATING CAPABILITIES: THE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT APPROACH
(2011) (asserting that capabilities are essential for people to control and plan their own lives).
106 Anna Aizer & Joseph J. Doyle, Jr., Juvenile Incarceration, Human Capital and Future Crime: Evidence
from Randomly-Assigned Judges 4 (Nat’l Bureau of Econ. Research, Working Paper No. 19102, 2013),
http://www.nber.org/papers/w19102. “Juvenile incarceration is expensive, with expenditures
on juvenile corrections totalling [sic] $6 billion annually in the US, and the average (direct) cost of a
incarcerating a juvenile is $88,000 for a 12 month stay.” Id. at 28; COOK COUNTY JUVENILE JUSTICE TASK
FORCE, COMMUNITY JUSTICE CONCEPT PAPER, (2012) [hereinafter CONCEPT PAPER], available at
http://nicic.gov/library/027268 (including data about the high cost of juvenile incarceration).
107 Aizer & Doyle, supra note 106, at 28.
108 See generally MISPLACED PRIORITIES, supra note 80 (detailing the United States’ continued investment
in incarceration at the expense of the education systems).
With most of the money related to these incarcerations going toward the cost of
imprisonment, little is left for prevention, treatment, education, and services to help
prisoners deal with the challenges that led them to crimes and imprisonment in the first
place. Therefore the cycle of addiction, unemployment, and crime continues or worsens
upon their release.
Id. at 9.
109 See id at 9 (noting that nearly seventy billion dollars is spent each year in the United States to
incarcerate people in prisons and jails).
110 See generally Todd R. Clear, IMPRISONING COMMUNITIES: HOW MASS INCARCERATION MAKES
DISADVANTAGED NEIGHBORHOODS WORSE 88 (2007) (exploring how mass incarceration negatively
impacts communities, including adding to lack of positive role models and high levels of unemployment).
111 Focus on Five, STRENGTHENING CHI.’S YOUTH, http://www.scy-
chicago.org/index.php/component/content/article/22-home/44-nyvpw (last visited Mar. 7, 2014).