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Today, and on any given day in the U.S., tens of thousands of students are attending school behind bars. Juvenile justice education fails many of these students, resulting in a double punishment for youth: the punitive experience of incarceration for their alleged offense and the potentially catastrophic disruptions of their educational pathway.
Bellwether Education Partners’ new report, Double Punished: Locked Out of Opportunity, reviews juvenile justice education policies in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. We focused our review on three related sets of policy tools that are crucial for improving outcomes for youth who are incarcerated: governance, accountability, and finance. While each of these policy tools creates opportunities for reform, designing all three to be mutually reinforcing has broader impact at the system level. However, our review of current state policies shows that there is much to improve.
State policymakers are responsible for designing policies that allow high-quality education to flourish in juvenile facilities. To that end, we conclude our report by offering recommendations to state and local policymakers for leveraging governance, accountability, and finance to improve the quality of juvenile justice education.
For a state-by-state summary of policies in place, access the appendix here.