According to Governing.com, tens of thousands of young people will be behind bars this year during the holidays. But will Christmas look different for them compared to any other day?
Many states are trying to make the season a little brighter for juvenile offenders-- while following protocol and staying within budget. The idea is to create a more positive culture than that of adult-style prisons-- so that young offenders don’t end up there.
For example, in Oklahoma, the “Santa Claus Commission,” which is funded by private donations, distributes a stocking with candy and stationery, body wash, and a $9 gift card to those in the state’s residential detention facilities and group homes.
In Maryland, there’s even the opportunity to earn a pass for good behavior to celebrate Christmas at home, and at the New Beginnings Youth Development Center in Laurel, Maryland, Christmas dinner gets catered by a local restaurant.
Doing something to celebrate Christmas is a gesture that officials hope adds up in the long run. The deputy secretary of the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice (which will distribute gift bags to about 235 incarcerated youths) told Governing, “The more we try to normalize these kids, the better the outcome. If you treat them as less than human, that’s the way they’re going to be.”