On December 8, Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced a new program aimed at providing a quality of educational services to today’s incarcerated youth.
With an estimated 60,000 young people in confinement every day, the Obama administration has outlined a Correctional Education Guidance Package in an effort to address one of the recommendations detailed in Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper Initiative” that discusses the need to reform the criminal justice system while also providing a quality education to incarcerated youth.
“In this great country, all children deserve equal access to a high-quality public education — and this is no less true for children in the juvenile justice system,” said Attorney General Holder.
The newly announced guidance package will include four components pertaining to providing youth in correctional facilities with a comparable education to those in community schools, catering to the educational needs of incarcerated youth with disabilities or special education needs, clarifying federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the educational services given to incarcerated youth and guidelines on how confined youth may be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant Program.
On average, the U.S. spends $88,000 per year to confine a juvenile, with about 55 percent of youth being rearrested within 12 months of their release. However, inmates of all ages are half as likely to go back to jail if they participate in some sort of higher education program, and thus Attorney General Holder and Secretary Duncan’s new guidance package will work to ensure that incarcerated youth are prepared to be productive citizens in the workforce and beyond.
“Students in juvenile justice facilities need a world-class education and rigorous coursework to help them successfully transition out of facilities and back into the classroom or the workforce becoming productive members of society,” said Secretary Duncan. “Young people should not fall off track for life just because they come into contact with the justice system.”
The administration’s latest initiative to better educate incarcerated youth is one step in the right direction to achieving President Obama’s 2020 goal of having the U.S. with the highest number of college graduates in the world.