Educational Practices Overview
Youth with disabilities are disproportionately represented within correctional facilities, with nearly four times as many students requiring special education and related services in the adjudicated population versus the general population. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), youth with disabilities must be identified and receive the special education and related services for which they are eligible while they are incarcerated. Unfortunately, educational practices within correctional facilities often do not adhere to the practices mandated by IDEA, with less than half of youth with a diagnosed learning disability attending a special education program while in custody. It is critical that these youth receive the educational, social-emotional, behavioral, and career planning services for which they are eligible so that they can attain new skills and exit facilities prepared to live a more productive life. In what follows, we summarize the challenges and best practices for meeting the diverse educational needs of youth within correctional facilities.