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Is Educational Achievement a Turning Point for Incarcerated Delinquents Across Race and Sex?

NCJ Number
Journal of Youth and Adolescence Volume: 41 Issue: 2 Dated: February 2012 Pages: 202-216
Thomas G. Bloomberg; William D. Bales; Alex R. Piquero
Date Published
February 2012
15 pages
This research examined demographic differences along with education and their link to delinquency.
Research has linked the role of education to delinquency, but much of the focus has been on general population samples and with little attention to demographic differences. Employing a cumulative disadvantage framework that integrates elements of informal social control and labeling theories, this article examines whether academic achievement serves as a positive turning point and re-directs juvenile delinquents away from subsequent offending. Attention is also given to race/sex contingencies. Using a sample of 4,147 delinquents released from Florida correctional institutions (86 percent male, 57 percent non-White, average age at release = 16.8 years), propensity score analysis yielded 2 findings: youth with above average academic achievement while incarcerated were significantly more likely to return to school post-release, and youth with above average attendance in public school were significantly less likely to be re-arrested in the 1-year post-release period. While the academic gains were pronounced among African-American males, the preventive effects of school attendance are similar across race and sex, suggesting that education can be a part of a larger prevention effort that assists juvenile delinquents in successful community reentry. (Published Abstract)