Locking up kids is traumatic. Indianapolis looked for alternatives

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wfyi on 11/17/2022 by Katrina Pross & Dylan Peers McCoy

In an empty retail space on the far east side of Indianapolis, about 30 boys pull plastic chairs into a circle.

They met up here a couple times a month.

“Some of you guys, man – been through so much in your lives, and are still going through it but you still persevere, man,” said Kareem Hines, the group’s leader, as he walks around the circle addressing the group at the start of the two-hour session.

The discussion is raw. They talk about mental health, relationships, and kids who have been shot and killed in the community. Hines passes out news articles about recent crimes involving kids.

This group is called New B.O.Y, a mentorship program for youth and young men.

In a state where the youth incarceration rate is 40 percent above the national average, Indianapolis stands out. The county has dramatically cut the number of children and teens in detention after making a commitment about 15 years ago. New B.O.Y. is one of the programs used instead.