Juvenile Crime and its Impact on the Economy

States are rethinking the "lock 'em up" approach to crime as they notice a correlation between soaring prison populations and rising deficits (talkleft. com/new). According to the Department of Justice the average cost of incarcerating an inmate in the Federal prison system is $22,515 per year while the average annual cost of incarceration in community corrections centers is approximately $17,706. 00 (http://www. bop. gov/progstat/om015_03. pdf). For this very reason community based service agencies that provide alternatives to incarceration like the Sankofa Youth Academy, Inc.

(SYA) are doing well while being socially responsible. The increase in juvenile crime and delinquency not only demands an alternative to incarceration but also a proven practice to help prevent juvenile crime and delinquency (http://www. ncjrs. org). Agency Purpose The Sankofa Youth Academy through its Sankofa Youth Advocate and Mentoring Project (SAP) utilized Federal funding allocated to the State of Ohio through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to help reduce recidivism rates in Franklin and Fairfield County Ohio (www. fccourts.

org). With its target population of more than 300 adjudicated youth per year the Sankofa Youth Academy primarily served as a referral source for the integrated juvenile justice system based in Columbus Ohio. As one of nine contracted agencies serving as a referral source for the juvenile court SYA saved money for the state, provided monitoring for adjudicated youth, provided therapeutic services for its clients, helped reduce recidivism rates amongst juvenile offenders and eliminated the need for multiple referrals for psychosocial services. Costs of Services

Although not very active, the Sankofa Youth Academy is currently an Ohio based not-for-profit community service agency (www. irs. gov). Its SAP program was specifically designed to provide weekly mentoring, advocacy, counseling and monitoring services for adjudicated youth instead of the alternative, being incarcerated. The price for this service was fixed and inelastic due to the strict guidelines governing Federal funding. Additionally, not-for-profit organizations are not typically concerned with generating a profit but are concerned with maximizing revenue to recover operating cost.

SAP's services cost the court $19. 00 per hour for each client for a maximum of ten hours a week. This pricing allowed SAP to serve approximately three hundred clients per year. In comparison to the approximate cost of $190 per week for holistic therapeutic services provided by SAP, the daily incarceration rate of $124 was not economically feasible or socially responsible (www. fccourts. org). For many consumers the primary benefit of these services extends beyond the monetary and inculcates socially and fiscal responsibility.

Since the social service arena does not typically compete in terms of pricing of its services or with producing a profit, the competition amongst service agencies takes another form in the competition for a percentage of the limited pool of available funding and funders. Unfortunately, during the past few years the recession and related factors have caused many potential funders to decrease their charitable giving and funding for community service organizations.

Program Functioning SAP was a unique program with a unique service model and service delivery system. While Juvenile incarceration rates in Columbus and SAP's referral increased, the recidivism rate amongst SYA's clients drastically decreased each year with a court reported annual success rate exceeding 87% (www. fccourts. org). In essence, the program was highly effective resulting in continued and increased funding averaging a 20% increase each year.

Unfortunately the uniqueness and success of the program could not assist with its five year survival. The agency temporarily suspended operations in 2003 when the pool Federal and state prevention funding allocated to Sankofa's primary funder was drastically reduced from $1. 5 million dollars annually to $900,000 (www. fccourts. org). This fact ultimately decreased SAP's program budget, staff and its capacity to serve a comparable number of youth. Conclusion

In the peak of its existence the Sankofa Youth Academy was noted as being one of approximately eight agencies in the nation to have a service contract to provide mentoring services specifically tailored for adjudicated youth. This acclaim lead several key figures to attempt to resurrect and restore the Sankofa Youth Academy and its youth advocate and mentoring program; however restoration efforts morphed the agency into a self sufficient not-for-profit program working in collaboration with other community organizations (ww. y2y. org).

This method of operating (i. e. seeking independence and self-sufficiency) is rare in the world of not-for-profit organizations however; Many organization are choosing to seek to diversify their funding and operate more like a for-profit business marketing their services and products in a competitive fashion. This phenomenon will lead to the solidification of services, increased accountability to shareholders and a change in the overall views of community service agencies who in the past were dependent upon an undependable source of funding.