This report describes the characteristics of students admitted to juvenile detention in 8th or 9th grade and examines whether being detained for any reason has adverse effects on education outcomes in adolescence and early adulthood. First, we compare detained students with their non-detained counterparts in regard to their background characteristics, living conditions, academic performance, and education attainment. Then, we examine whether being admitted to juvenile detention predicts specific outcomes: 1) high school graduation, 2) high school dropout, 3) earning a high school equivalency certificate (GED) for those who did not graduate high school, and 4) postsecondary enrollment (enrollment in four-year and two-year institutions are examined separately).
The study found that detained youth differed from non-detained students in many observable ways. In particular, compared to students who were not exposed to detention, detained students were disproportionately boys, poor1, youth of color, over-age for a grade level, and had significant learning and/or behavioral problems that qualified them for special education and related services. For many detained students, these conditions were evident since 6th or 7th grade, i.e., two years prior to their exposure to juvenile detention. Regardless of detention, this group of students was at heightened risk for many behavioral concerns that may impact their educational attainment.
We found that detained students underperformed on most markers of educational achievement compared to their non-detained peers. Also, students who had a more intense involvement with detention, characterized by either longer exposure and/or multiple detention episodes, performed at lower academic levels relative to students with less intense involvement with juvenile detention: