Is Educational Achievement a Turning Point for Incarcerated Delinquents Across Race and Sex?
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% male, 57% non-White, average age at release = 16.8 years), propensity score analysis yielded two 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 re-entry.
KeywordsLabeling Education Recidivism Race Sex
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