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ERIC Number: ED555854
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 48
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Just Learning: The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice Systems into Effective Educational Systems. A Study of Juvenile Justice Schools in the South and the Nation
Suitts, Steve; Dunn, Katherine; Sabree, Nasheed
Southern Education Foundation
With awareness growing that schools are disciplining and suspending minority students at alarming rates, the report provides powerful evidence that young people placed in the juvenile justice system-predominately minority males incarcerated for minor offenses-are receiving a substandard education. The report, "Just Learning: The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice Systems into Effective Educational Systems," argues that education for the 70,000 students in custody on any given day is setting them even further back in their ability to turn their lives around. Drawing upon the most recently available data from the nation's largest database on teaching and learning in juvenile justice systems, the report finds that the quality of the learning programs for incarcerated youth have had "little positive, enduring impact on the educational achievement of most children and youth in state custody." In 2009, for example, most "longer-term" students (those enrolled for 90 days or more) whose progress was documented failed to make any significant improvement in learning and academic achievement. Incarcerated youth in smaller facilities closer to their local communities actually made less progress than students enrolled in state systems. That was particularly 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. Part of the problem, the report says, is that the programs, which serve youth with serious learning and emotional problems, provide young people with limited supports. Taken as a whole, the report found that effects of juvenile justice programs are "profound and crippling," and set young people back when they should be turning lives around. However, it says that education in juvenile justice programs can be successful. It cites programs such as the Maya Angelou Academy in Washington, D.C., that use teaching and learning approaches that have proven to be effective for many high-risk students and in the general population. It also highlights research on an innovative educational program in Chicago demonstrating that cognitive behavior therapy resulted in a 44 percent reduction in violent crime arrests among participants during the program, as well as gains in schooling, measured by days in attendance, GPA, and school persistence. The report closes by describing a key strategy for creating positive turning points, potential economic gains from effective education, and by providing recommendations. The following are appended: (1) Youth in Residential Placement in Juvenile Justice Systems By Race, State, and Region: 2010; (2) A Void and Confusion of Data in Juvenile Justice Systems; (3) Calculations and Methodology; and (4) Measures of Academic Achievement-Neglected, Delinquent, and At-Risk Youth by State and Region: 2011. [Foreword by Kent McGuire. For the summary of this report, see ED555853.]
Southern Education Foundation. 135 Auburn Avenue NE 2nd Floor, Atlanta, GA 30303. Tel: 404-523-0001; Fax: 404-523-6904; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; High Schools; Secondary Education; High School Equivalency Programs; Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Southern Education Foundation
Identifiers - Location: United States