New Jersey has significantly cut the number of juveniles locked up after being sentenced for crimes, according to the state attorney general.
The state Juvenile Justice Commission has seen its share of young inmates committed to its facilities fall 85 percent since 2003, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said during a graduation ceremony at the New Jersey Training School in Monroe Township.
And over the last year, state authorities say they are diverting more of those inmates to its “residential community homes” instead of more traditional prison-like facilities.
The JJC, which is under the Attorney General’s Office, mainly oversees inmates sentenced as juveniles into their mid-20s. Currently there are 481 such inmates in the state.
A 2016 study from the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice identified “staggering racial disparities” among the state’s juvenile inmates, finding that black kids were 24 times more likely to be committed to a juvenile facility than white ones.
Grewal said youth of color account for about 85 percent of the reduction in inmates committed to the JJC over the last decade, though state data shows the commission’s current population is still nearly 67 percent black.