Youth Jailed Rates Down in Arkansas


The number of teens being locked up in Arkansas is going down. 

Drew Shover is the Chief Juvenile Probation Officer in  Benton County. He said  “We’re able to gauge a youths risk and then we’re able to categorize them in a program according to their risk.”

Shover works every day to keep more and more teens from being locked up. “We always look to divert kids that can be diverted. The last thing we want to do is over expose them to the juvenile system,” Shover said. 

In Benton County the number of youth landing behind bars is down 25-percent since last year. The Juvenile Detention Center said it has to do with compassion for the youth. Shover said, “Our performance indicator is to even reduce that 25 percent another 40 percent and it can be done. I mean if you give us options, we’ll use them.”

One of those options to keep teens from being locked up is Youth Bridge. The organization works to help teens have successful futures all across Northwest Arkansas 

Darryl Rhoda is the CEO of Youth Bridge. He said, “The key to keeping kids out of jail is to have plenty of alternatives in your local community. “

So what’s the real key to to keeping the incarceration numbers down? Rhoda said it’s love. “They’re missing in a lot of cases.. love. They’re missing a caring adult. Maybe they’re coming from a dysfunctional home. And that’s the greatest poverty there is, is the love that they’re missing.”

The combined efforts of Youth Bridge and Benton County are paying off. According to the Division of Youth Services 2017 annual report, Benton County saw the most success in keeping youth out of the correctional system in all of Arkansas. 

Youth Bridge saw a 10-percent decline in their funding last year and anticipate an even bigger decline next year. To find out how you can help head to their website –>

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