Millions spent to lock up young offenders

This article and others forthcoming on this topic are being produced as part of a project for the University of Southern California Center for Health Journalism’s National Fellowship, in conjunction with the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Other stories in this series include:

Where Do Kids Get Guns? Inmates Reveal How Easy It Is

Fernandez case highlights the long-term implications of incarcerating youthful offenders

Arrest of 12-year-old on manslaughter charges highlights challenges in cases of kids

For many young homicide offenders, trouble easy to find

Many violent young offenders were 'born into dysfunction'

In children, trauma too often leads to tragedy

When Kids Kill

Audio: Story Behind the Story: When Kids Kill

The average sentence length for kids who take part in slayings in Duval County is 30 years in Florida’s prison system.

Of the 113 Duval County cases looked at by the Times-Union, 50 of them have life sentences. Unless they are re-sentenced or receive judicial parole, they will remain behind bars. In Florida, a life sentence is a life sentence.

At an average cost of $20,367 to house an inmate for a year in 2016-17, taxpayers will spend at least $611,000 to house one juvenile killer for the duration of his 30-year sentence. Likely that number will be even higher, given that the cost of incarcerating one person has steadily risen since 2012-13 when the Florida Department of Corrections estimated it cost $17,338.

That’s more than $2.3 million annually for all of these juveniles from Duval.

For all of the more than 1,000 juvenile killers from across Florida, the annual price tag for incarceration exceeds $21.7 million.

[This story was originally published by Florida Times-Union.]