It’s no surprise that conferences and convenings are often packed to the gills with sessions and speakers, making it difficult to go deep on any one issue.
But when I attended the 3rd annual Janet Reno Forum on Juvenile Justice last week, I expected the topic of education in juvenile justice facilities to get some airtime. I was disappointed that the event, held at at the Georgetown University Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR), largely overlooked the issue.
As Bellwether demonstrated in a report last year, academic programming at juvenile justice schools is wholly insufficient. For example, students in juvenile justice facilities have far less access to critical math and science courses necessary for high school graduation. Moreover, they have less access to credit recovery programs, which help them catch up if they’re behind. Next month we will release a follow-up analysis delving more deeply into the inadequacies and disparities in juvenile justice education.
As part of the event, the Center released a new report, “A Roadmap to the Ideal Juvenile Justice System,” which stresses eight key operating principles:
- Developmentally appropriate;
- Research-based, data-driven, and outcome-focused;
- Fair and equitable;
- Trauma-informed and responsive;
- Supportive of positive relationships and stability;
- Youth-and family-centered; and,
But as my colleague Hailly Korman has written, education has to be part of any juvenile justice system. Education is the best and most consistent through line for young people navigating a complex path through juvenile justice and other systems. While CJJR’s report offers an important approach, the success of reforms will be hampered if they do not address education in these facilities.
Nevertheless, several important themes emerged across the panels and discussions: Continue reading