Teens with disabilities succeed after release from jail when supports are in place
Because of budget cutbacks and limited funding for juveniles leaving a correctional institution, many find themselves back in the system within a short period of time.
The National Association of State Directors of Special Education reviewed the practices in four states regarding the recidivism rate of teens with disabilities. The rate of return to the juvenile justice system is more than 55% than juveniles without disabilities.
Programs in Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii and Oregon were reviewed. In Arizona, the Department of Juvenile Corrections assigns a transition coordinator to work with the newly released juveniles. They coordinate support with parole officers, the special education entity and school districts.
The “Think Exit at Entry” program in Georgia provides transition staff, educational planning and progress reviews to youth in the juvenile justice system. This includes youth with disabilities. Hawaii offers a seamless transfer of records from the correctional institution to a mainstream public school upon the juvenile’s release. This is seen as beneficial to a successful reentry to education for a student with disabilities.
Oregon’s Project Stay Out helps juveniles with special education needs or a mental health diagnosis. Upon release from incarceration, minors work on self-determination skills, social skills, finding work and other goals. One study of the Stay Out program found that 66% of the participants were employed or in school during the six month’s after their release.