NCLD Report Examines Disproportionate Involvement of Youth with Disabilities with the Juvenile Justice System

On Thursday, the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) released a report, “Unlocking Futures: Youth with Disabilities and the Juvenile Justice System.” The report argues that systemic failures such as the “school-to-prison pipeline” result in more youth with disabilities coming in contact with the juvenile justice system. Approximately 65-70 percent of justice-involved youth have a disability, and while data collected about incarcerated youth vary widely, it is estimated that 30-60 percent have disabilities. These statistics are even more disproportionate for the youth of color with disabilities. Involvement with the juvenile justice system has a damaging snowball effect on youth with disabilities- limited and poor quality education while incarcerated and violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) put youth far behind, and reentry to school is a major challenge. NCLD offers a variety of policy recommendations to address these issues, including that the U.S. Department of Education should update its guidance on requirements under IDEA for incarcerated youth with disabilities, strengthened oversight and enforcement; oversight from Congress; and federal, state, and local efforts to provide better community-level services for youth including diversion programs and mental health services.

Review the report.

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