Marc Schindler and Vincent Schiraldi, Opinion contributors Published 7:20 p.m. ET March 27, 2020 | Updated 7:33 p.m. ET March 27, 2020CLOSE Dr. Tom Frieden, former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warns of ‘catastrophic scenes’ in New York. USA TODAYReleasing low-risk, incarcerated youth is not just smart for curbing the pandemic, it will improve the system.Life is fundamentally changing right now.Around the U.S. schools are closing to protect children — and their families — from COVID-19. But, at the same time, more than 48,000 youth are detained in the criminal justice system, all potentially at heightened risk for the coronavirus.To protect them — and help them avoid carrying the virus back to their communities —jurisdictions should immediately examine which youth can be safely managed at home and reduce youth incarceration.We know. We’ve run and transformed youth prison and probation systems in two major American cities, New York City and Washington D.C., safely moving kids from incarceration to community programs while ensuring public safety. That’s a good idea at any time, but especially during this pandemic. Last week, we joined correctional administrators from around the country in calling for immediate efforts to reduce the number of incarcerated youth and to make urgent changes to the conditions facing those who

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