NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two senators have proposed alternate solutions to incarcerating young teens who have committed crimes.

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced the Better Options for Kids Act last week.

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The bill aims to give incentives to states that seek out alternatives to incarceration, such as counseling and other mental health services.

“When you send a 16-year-old to prison, he’s never the same, ever again,” Murphy told WCBS 880’s Fran Schneidau. “Divert them from prison in the first place, get them treated for the issues that are creating the reasons for them acting out.”

Murphy said jailing young teens is expensive, costing Connecticut approximately $134,000 on average per year to incarcerate a single child.

“When we lock up a child, not only are we wasting millions of taxpayer dollars, we’re setting him or her up for failure in the long run,” Murphy said.

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Studies have shown that longer incarceration does not reduce recidivism, and teens are less likely to graduate from high school and more likely to end up in the adult criminal justice system, Murphy said.

“The system as it exists now is unfair to everyone involved and needs to be changed,” Murphy said.”We need to quit being so irresponsible and facilitate better outcomes for youth.”

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