Correctional Education in Juvenile Justice Facilities

Posted by U.S. Department of Education on January 5, 2015

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. have released guidelines for improving education for youth in the nation’s juvenile detention centers, reports Moriah Balingit for The Washington Post. An estimated 60,000 young people are in custody nationally on any given day, many already behind in school; poor schooling in custody puts them further behind. A Washington Post investigation last month detailed how incarcerated juveniles on Native American reservations languish in facilities without instruction. The new guidance clarifies education rights of juvenile offenders, indicating they have many of the same rights to special education as their peers. The guidelines do not create new policy, nor expand federal authority to enforce provisions, but advocates see their issuance as a sign that federal authorities are taking the education of incarcerated youth seriously. The guidelines also clarify that some incarcerated juveniles are eligible for Pell grants, which have helped millions of poor students attend college, and could enable young offenders to take college classes in custody. Studies have shown that inmates who receive a college education are less likely to re-offend. To incarcerate a juvenile offender costs an average of $88,000 per year; good schooling could reduce the likelihood that young people will be arrested again.

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