Delinquency and Education: What Works Revisited

Spencer De Li, Florida State University
Thomas G. Blomberg, Forida State University
Kristin Parsons Winokur, Florida State University/

The role of education upon subsequent life course trajectories toward and away from delinquency is the focus of our inquiry as we revisit the issue of what works in juvenile justice programming. Educational failure during childhood is a risk factor associated with the likelihood to engage in delinquent activities. Conversely, as the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) (2001) points out, juvenile recidivism rates which usually range from 60% to 84%, can be reduced by 20% or more through quality reading instruction programs. University of Maryland researchers similarly report evidence that reading skills instruction is more effective in reducing subsequent delinquency than traditional juvenile boot camp programs (CJJ, 2001). We therefore seek to identify specific juvenile justice education strategies associated with successful community reintegration as measured through recidivism, return to public school, and length of stay. We employ a longitudinal research design to trace youths' pathways into and away from community reintegration upon release from juvenile justice programs. Recognizing the need to control for additional factors related to successful outcomes, the analyses include variables such as age, gender, race, program security level, and program length of stay. In so doing, we are able to estimate the net effect of educational performance indicators on successful community reintegration.

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Updated 05/20/2006