Juvenile justice: Part of the problem

Posted by on April 28, 2014

Juvenile justice: Part of the problem

A new report from the Southern Education Foundation finds that youth in the U.S. juvenile-justice system — predominately minority males, incarcerated for minor offenses — are receiving a significantly worse education than non-incarcerated peers. Using the nation’s largest database on teaching and learning in juvenile-justice systems, the report finds the quality of learning programs for the 70,000 students in custody on any given day sets them further back in their ability to turn their lives around than if they hadn’t entered the system. In 2009, for example, most “longer-term” students (enrolled for 90 days or more) failed to make significant improvement in academic achievement. Incarcerated youth in smaller facilities, closer to their local communities, actually fared worse than students enrolled in state systems. That particularly held true in the 15 Southern states, where the proportion of students enrolled in local facilities increased from 21 percent of all incarcerated students in 2007 to almost 60 percent in 2011. A salient issue is that the programs, which serve youth with serious learning and emotional problems, provide limited supports. Taken as a whole, the report found the effects of juvenile-justice programs are “profound and crippling.”


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