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Do teens who go to jail still finish high school?

For a teenager, an arrest for relatively serious charges can derail an otherwise promising future. After all, studies have indicated that teen who are put behind bars actually have higher odds of being arrested and jailed again after they become adults.

This flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which says that jail time is for rehabilitation and should help keep teens out of trouble. If it increases their odds of arrest later in life, is it really performing that function in society?

Part of the problem is that, while teens who go to jail still can finish their schooling or get a GED, the reports indicate that they are far less likely to do so. Specifically, young people who go through a period of incarceration graduate from high school 13 percent less often than their peers. They are arrested as adults 23 percent more often.

Researchers did find some correlation with age, saying that younger teens may be more likely to go back to class after being released. At about 16 years old, they noticed a shift. Teens who are incarcerated around that age are far less likely to ever attend high school again.

They also noted that putting all of these young people together may not create the best social environment. Could the relationships and connections they make while incarcerated cause them to turn to crime as adults, thus leading to higher adult arrest rates?

Though there are many factors in play here, it is clear that a conviction can change a young person's life forever. Those who face charges must know all of the legal defense options they have.

Source: MIT, "Study: Juvenile incarceration yields less schooling, more crime," Peter Dizikes, accessed April 20, 2018

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