In Oklahoma, the “Santa Claus Commission” gives each of the 400 offenders in the state’s residential detention facilities and group homes a duffle bag and a holiday stocking with candy, stationery, toiletries, and a $9 gift card. Staff also distribute holiday cards and throw holiday parties.
In Louisiana, incarcerated juveniles get gift bags — with pajamas, body wash, candy and chips.
In Maryland, youths can earn a pass for good behavior to go home to celebrate Christmas. Last year, when the family of a girl who’d earned a pass could not come pick her up, a Department of Juvenile Services staff member drove her home.
According to Pew Charitable Trusts, as a result of research showing that incarceration of lower-risk teens leads to higher recidivism rates, the number of youths held in residential facilities around the country has dropped by more than half, from 108,800 in 2000 to 50,800 in 2014, according to one-day counts by the OJJDP.