Impact of the Problem on Youth and Society
The lack of an education can make an enormous difference in a juvenile's life. Harold Hodgkinson, a demographer and education analyst, writes that dropping out of school as a youth is a factor closely related to being a prisoner as an adult. He estimates that States spend roughly $22,000 annually on each adult in prison.3 Other researchers estimate that it costs as much as $35,000 to $60,000 per year to incarcerate one youth.4 In contrast, the average cost to educate one student for 1 year is about $7,000.5 It makes economic sense for communities to emphasize education over incarceration.
Although it is understood that not all juvenile crime can be prevented, it is clear that promoting the development of troubled young people into responsible citizens is in society's best interests. Juveniles struggling to make the transition from the juvenile justice system to school completion and the workforce must not be overlooked. Helping them successfully reconnect with the education mainstream is an essential first step. The challenge centers on how to make this process happen for the good of both the community and the young person.