INSTITUTE INDEX: Despite recent reforms, Southern justice still harsh on children

The caption on this 1903 photo reads, "Juvenile convicts at work in the fields." Over a century later, every state in the U.S. still sends some children to adult courts, and the South leads the country in putting children in adult jails and prisons. (Photo from the Library of Congress website.)

Rank of the U.S. among industrialized nations in the number and percentage of incarcerated youth: 1

U.S. rate of placing children under 18 in adult lockups compared to other industrialized nations: "extraordinary"

Since 2016, number of U.S. states that have increased the age of adult prosecution for most youth from 16 to 18 by passing so-called "raise the age" laws: 4*

Number of those states that are in the South: 3**

In the four states that recently raised the age, number of children in jail and prison at last count, most of whom would have gone to juvenile detention or treatment facilities if charged under the new law: 1,721

Since peaking in 1999, percent decrease in the number of children in adult jails nationwide: 58

According to the most recent tally from 2013, number of children in adult jails across the U.S., where all states still allow some minors who commit certain offenses to be jailed as adults: 4,420

Of those children in adult jails, percent jailed in the South: 55***

Rank of the South among U.S. regions that send the most children to jail with adults: 1

Since 2000, percent decrease in the number of children in state prisons across the U.S.: 74

Number of children in state prisons as of December 2015: 993

Percent of those children who were incarcerated in Southern state prisons: 44

Rank of Florida among the states that imprison the most children with adults: 1

As of late 2015, number of children in Florida's adult prisons: 131

Number of times more likely youth held in adult jail or prison are to be sexually assaulted than those in juvenile facilities: 5

Number of times more likely they are to commit suicide: 36

Since 2001, percent decrease nationwide in the number of children in juvenile detention facilities: 59****

Percent decrease in the Southern states: 52

Number of children committed to juvenile facilities across the U.S. in 2015: 48,043

Percent of those who were committed in the South: 31

Average juvenile facility incarceration rate per 100,000 minors for the U.S. overall: 152

For the Southern states: 166

For West Virginia, which has the nation's highest rate: 329

(Click on figure to go to source.)

* Louisiana, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina.

** Facing South defines the South as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

*** The Bureau of Justice Statistics includes the District of Columbia, Maryland and Oklahoma in the South. Combined, they had 128 children in adult jails. No other region sent more than 900 children to adult jails.

**** We updated the numbers in this chart to reflect the most recent data, which is from 2015.