Campaign 4 Youth Justice by yRP28V



                                     “While still in juvenile hall, I obtained my high school diploma. This period of my life
                                     also witnessed the discovery of the wonderful world of books. To my unexpected joy
                                     and great benefit, I found relief to the stress of incarceration. I read and read and
                                     read some more…The profundity and rapidity of change that followed can hardly be
                                     described…I learned that the key to my rehabilitation and transformation into a
                                     productive citizen was education. I became determined to obtain a college education
                                     [while in the adult system]: I asked various people if they had information on
                                     correspondence courses and I wrote many universities, yet the more I gathered the
                                     bleaker my situation began to appear.…”- John Colasurdo (currently incarcerated)

Educators know that children have great potential to change and develop. Although many
children will be involved in delinquent activities in their adolescence, most educators
believe that society should not give up on any youth by denying them an education.

Youth in the justice system have a great need for education.1

   Most youth in the juvenile or adult justice system are two or more years behind their peers in basic
    academic skills and more often miss school or have been suspended or expelled.2
   30% to 50% of youth in the juvenile or criminal justice systems have disabilities.3
   40% to 50% of youth in the juvenile or criminal justice systems have repeated one or more grades.4

The juvenile and adult criminal justice systems fail to provide meaningful education to
most youth.5

   Nationally, 30% to 50% of incarcerated youth with disabilities are denied appropriate educational
   Less than 40% of state prisons provide special education services to youth.7
   The education that is provided in some juvenile detention centers is often not based around a
    meaningful curriculum and does not offer credits that transfer to their community school.8
   Some juvenile detention centers only require teachers to hold the lowest form of teaching license,
    many do not require special training in correctional education, and many do not have enough special
    education teachers.9
   Due to the poor quality of education available in the juvenile and adult criminal justice system, class-
    action lawsuits have been filed in over 20 states challenging inadequate educational practices in
    correctional facilities.10

The best way to rehabilitate detained juveniles and prevent them from committing future
criminal acts is to provide them with educational opportunities.

   Youth who commit crimes respond well to rehabilitation and treatment, particularly educational
   Research show that youth who participate in correctional education programs are less likely to
    commit future criminal acts and one-third less likely to be re-incarcerated.12
   Research also shows that children receiving education in juvenile detention are more likely to return
    to school after their release and eventually become employed.13


1 Sarah Ingersoll & Donni LeBoeuf, Reaching Out to Youth Out of the Education Mainstream, Juvenile Justice Bull. (U.S.
Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention), Feb. 1997, at 7, available at
2 Washington, DC: The National Center on Education. Available at
3 Newbury Park, CA: Sage; Murphy, D. M. (1986). The prevalence of handicapping conditions among juvenile delinquents.

Remedial and Special Education, 7(3), 7 - 17.
4 R.M. Foley, Academic Characteristics of Incarcerated Youth and Correctional Education Programs, 9 Journal of Emotional and

Behavioral Disorders 4, 248-259 (2001).
5 See Leone, P. E., & Meisel, S. (1997). Improving education services for students in detention and confinement facilities.

Children’s Legal Rights Journal, 71 (1), 2- 12. (finding that juvenile facilities devote more attention to educational
programs than adult facilities, resulting in lower teacher-inmate ratios and higher rates of participation in educational
programs); See also Donna M. Bishop, Juvenile Offenders in the Adult Criminal Justice System, 27 Crime & Just. 81, 141 (2000)
(noting that the juvenile detention system has traditionally placed greater emphasis on treatment than has the adult
correctional system).
6 Leone, P. E., & Meisel, S. (1997). Improving education services for students in detention and confinement facilities. Children’s

Legal Rights Journal, 71 (1), 2- 12.
7 Elizabeth Cate, Teach your Children Well: Proposed Inadequacies of Correctional Special Education for Juvenile Inmates,
34 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 1, 11 (2010).
8 See Sele Nadel-Hayes & Daniel Macallair, Ctr. On Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Restructuring juvenile Corrections in

California: A Report to the State Legislature 12, 23 (2005),
9 Barbra A. Moody, Juvenile Correction Educators: Their Knowledge and Understanding of Special Education, 54 J. Correctional

Edu. 105, 78 (2003).
10 See, e.g., Letter from Bradley J. Schlozman, Acting Assistant Attorney Gen., to the Honorable Mitch Daniels, Governor

of Ind. 19-20 (Sept. 9, 2005), available at plainfield_juv_findlet_9-
9-05.pdf (“[Students in the Intensive Treatment Unit] remain on the unit all day with no school work or instruction
[and]... classes in Cottage 13 are held erratically or not at all.”)
11 B.J. Casey et al., Structural and Functional Brain Development and Its Relation to Cognitive Development, 54 Biological

Psychiatry 241, 253 (2000); see also Usha Goswami, Neuroscience and Education, 74 Brit. J. duc. Psychol. 1, 3 (2004).
   Dignity in Schools Campaign, The Right to Education in the Juvenile and Criminal Justice Systems in the United States.
(December 31, 2008). Available at
13 See Thomas C. Blomberg et al., Juvenile Justice Education, No Child Left Behind, and the National Collaboration Project,

Corrections Today, Apr. 2006, at 143, available at
justice_corrections_today.pdf.; See also James H. Keeley, Will Adjudicated Youth Return to School After Residential Placement?
The Results of a Predictive Variable Study, 57 J. Correctional Educ. 65, 67 (2006).


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