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Opening Arguments

The family plan


Indiana's juvenile detention centers have been enlisted in a study exploring whether incarcerated youths' behavior can be improved by increasing their visits with relatives.

The Indiana Department of Correction last year expanded family visitations for juvenile detainees to as many as six days a week. The new policy by the state agency's Division of Youth Services led to family visitation rates doubling within a few months.

The Vera Institute of Justice will examine whether this increase in family contacts improves juveniles' behavior and educational performance while in custody and following their release.

Whether it helps would depend on how good the family relationship is and whether it was a contributing factor in the juvenile's behavior, right? The assumption here seems to be that we're talking about good, healthy families in which a youth goes bad anyway. Maybe I'm just buying into stereotypes, but I think it's fair to assume this is not the situation in many cases. A juvenile in trouble is as likely as not to be from a dysfunctional family and acting out as part of that dysfunction.