Each year thousands of youth in America are uprooted from their schools and communities and sent to a juvenile justice detention center. The majority of these confined youth are there for nonviolent offenses, including technical violations, such as failing to complete treatment or violating probation. Even youth awaiting foster care placement can be placed in a detention center. Over the course of a year, we estimate between 90,000 and 170,000 youth spend at least one day in a short-term detention center, and over 40% are detained for more than a month.
While in these facilities, young people are entitled to the same educational opportunities that they would have in the outside world. However, there is little research or data about this population. In “Educating Youth in Short-Term Detention,” we found that youth’s educational experiences in these facilities often compound, rather than alleviate, the challenges they face.