Improving College and Career Readiness for Youth and Young Adults in the Justice System

As states raise and extended the age of juvenile court jurisdiction, there is a growing proportion of older youth who require education and vocational skills to transition to crime free and productive adulthood. Unfortunately, states have historically neglected to provide quality educational and vocational services to incarcerated youth and young adults. Most incarcerated youth and young adults are over-age and under-credited, several grade levels behind their peers, and likely to have an educational disability.

In response, the CSG Justice Center is working to identify policy and practice barriers to meeting the education and vocational needs of youth and young adults in the juvenile justice system, and offer strategies for improving outcomes for these young people.

JJWhitePaperCoverLOCKED OUT: Improving Educational and Vocational Outcomes for Incarcerated Youth highlights key findings and recommendations drawn from a 2015 national survey conducted by the CSG Justice Center, in partnership with the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, that examines how education for incarcerated youth is overseen and delivered, how outcome data is collected and used, and how youth are transition to education settings post release. The CSG Justice Center is also working to develop a strategy to support states in improving student outcomes for incarcerated youth through its existing technical assistance programs and by working with select state demonstration sites to identify promising approaches for collecting, reporting, and using student outcome data to drive decisions that can be shared with the broader field.

JJWhitePaperCoverReducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Young Adults in the Juvenile and Adult Criminal Justice Systems is designed to help state and local officials better support young adults in the justice system by identifying the distinct needs of this population, summarizing the limited research available on what works to address these needs, and providing recommendations for steps that policymakers, juvenile and adult criminal justice agency leaders, researchers, and the field can take to improve outcomes for young adults.


This work in the area of youth is supported by key partners including the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Initiative, Georgetown University’s Center on Juvenile Justice Reform, the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, the American Probation and Parole Association, the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Atlantic Philanthropies, and others. 

Key Findings from "Locked Out"

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  • Most incarcerated youth do not have access to the same educational and vocational services as their peers in the community, and they do not attend schools that have the same rigorous curriculum and student performance standards as traditional public schools;
  • Most states are unable to report student outcome data for both youth who are incarcerated in state-run facilities and youth incarcerated in privately run facilities;
  • Most states are not using best practices to ensure that youth released from incarceration make an effective transition to community-based educational or vocational settings.