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WHEREAS, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) believes that access to education and, particularly, literacy, should be regarded as a fundamental right of all people, giving students the ability to grow and succeed as productive members of society; and
WHEREAS, the juvenile justice system sits at the intersection of education and justice for youth under the age of 18 who become involved in criminal activity; and
WHEREAS, the stated goals of the juvenile justice system are skill development, habilitation, rehabilitation, treatment needs, successful reintegration of youth into the community, and public safety; and
WHEREAS, youth-adjudicated children face educational disruptions, delayed enrollment, and inappropriate placements, which cause these children to either fall behind or to drop out of school, as many onsite educational programs within the juvenile justice system fail to meet the needs of their students; and
WHEREAS, students of color, students with disabilities, and students within the LGBTQ community are disproportionately arrested, referred, detained, charged, found delinquent (or transferred to adult court) instead of being placed on probation or into diversion programs; and
WHEREAS, black youth are approximately 14% of the total youth population, but 47.3% of the youth who are transferred to adult court by juvenile court judges who believe the youth cannot benefit from the services of their court. Black youth are 53.1% of youth transferred for person offenses despite the fact that black and white youth make up an equal percentage of youth charged with person offenses, 40.1% and 40.5% respectively, in 2015. These disparities underscore the urgency of ensuring that juvenile justice facilities not perpetuate the racial injustices that gave rise to the gross over-commitment of Black youth to these facilities.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP urge locally operated youth detention centers to establish accredited educational programs with certified teachers that align with the local public schools by providing basic literacy and functional skills needed for students who are likely to return to such public schools, or who seek to earn a diploma while incarcerated.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP further encourage the operators of detention centers to assess and report whether changes in curriculum have made significant differences regarding safety inside the prison, recidivism rates, the rate of youth returning to school, and graduation rates.