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LOCKED OUT: Improving Educational and Vocational Outcomes for Incarcerated Youth

Posted in 2015, Research & Policy Thursday, 05 November 2015

The Council of State Governments Justice Center released a report analyzing data collected from a nationwide survey of state juvenile correctional agencies. The following is the introduction to their report.

Policymakers across the political spectrum agree: all young people should have access to a high-quality public education. Within the past two decades, particular emphasis has been placed on ensuring that students receive instruction that prepares them for college and careers, and that schools are held accountable for realizing these goals.

There is perhaps no subset of young people whose need for a quality education is more acute—and whose situation makes them especially challenging to serve—than incarcerated youth. Of the more than 60,000 youth who are incarcerated on any given day in the United States, nearly 36,000 are committed to state custody,* two-thirds of whom are youth of color. The majority of these youth are over-age and under-credited,† several grade levels behind their peers, more likely to have a disability than their peers,2 and have been suspended multiple times and/or expelled from their local schools.3

In 1997, the majority of incarcerated youth were housed in state-run facilities; as of 2013, almost two-thirds of incarcerated youth were held in privately or locally run facilities. [See Figure 1] In most states, an array of state and local agencies and nonprofit and private organizations are responsible for overseeing and delivering educational and vocational services to incarcerated youth. As the proportion of youth incarcerated in privately or locally run facilities has grown, this has evolved into an increasingly complicated patchwork of government and nongovernment agencies. This shift means that any combination of state, local, nonprofit, and private entities now manage educational and vocational services for incarcerated youth. 

 

Read the full report here!