Detention affects teenagers’ education

Washington, June 10 (IANS) Teenagers who are detained tend to have substantially worse outcomes later in life than those who avoid serving time for similar offences, according to a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study.

Juvenile incarceration lowers high-school graduation rates by 13 percent and increases adult incarceration by 23 percent.

“We find that kids who go into juvenile detention are much less likely to graduate from high school and much more likely to end up in prison as adults,” said co-author Joseph Doyle, an economist at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

The study uses the variation in judges’ sentencing tendencies to analyze a large pool of otherwise similar teenagers, thus isolating the effects of the sentences on the kids in question.

“We think this is some of the first real causal evidence on the effects of juvenile detention on kids’ outcomes,” Doyle noted.

The co-authors are Doyle and Anna Aizer, an associate professor of economics and public policy at the Brown University.

The study looks at cases involving 35,000 juvenile offenders over a 10-year period, who had all committed offences that provided presiding judges with latitude in determining sentencing levels.

Those periods of incarceration appear to make kids much less likely to return to school at all, particularly if they are around age 16.

“The kids who go to juvenile detention are very unlikely to go back to school at all,” Doyle explained.

The study was published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

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