Advocates Say Schools in Juvenile Detention Facilities are Failing Kids

CINCINNATI – Learning can be difficult under the best of circumstances. But for those young people inside the nation’s youth detention centers, the barriers to learning can be enormous indeed. This was just one of the messages that came out of a panel discussion at a conference in Cincinnati today sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund, the first such large-scale meeting of the child advocacy organization in a decade. The panel, Meeting the Educational Needs of Children in the Juvenile Justice System: Challenges and Opportunities, concentrated on highlighting problems and introducing ideas for reforming detention center school systems.

Panelists, including  David Sapp of  the American Civil Liberties Union, Lia Venchi, a teacher at a school for youth in detention and David Domenici, a member of the See Forever Foundation, said most of the reforms implemented in schools within juvenile justice facilities have been forced as a result of litigation or administrative complaints, making public attention the biggest force for change in what are usually highly secretive environments. The children who attend school in juvenile justice detention facilities have much higher needs than those in the general population, the panelists said.

Child Advocates Prepare to Rally in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI – Marian Wright Edelman sees this as a “do or die” moment for American democracy. The first black woman to join the Mississippi bar, Edelman led the NAACP’s legal defense fund in Jackson in the 1960s. She’s seen her share of social injustice. But rising incarceration, poverty and social disparity in the United States is increasingly harming children and poor people, she says – the country’s most vulnerable groups — while special interests and money control the political system. It’s time for citizens to roll up their sleeves, she says.