We all know that finding a job can be quite challenging on its own. But what about finding a job after having been involved in the Juvenile Justice system?
Written by Johanna Gace
Several studies have analyzed how prior involvement in the juvenile justice system can have an impact on future employment prospects for young adults. Most of them have focused on the US since it is, by large, the country that incarcerates more of its minion through the juvenile courts and the adult criminal justice system. Studies illustrate that juvenile incarceration lowers the probability of high school completion and boots the possibility of incarceration at a later point in life.1 Moreover, incarceration does not allow you to develop a social network that will then allow you to find a job. This proves to be a huge disadvantage for young prisoners since a great part of jobs are found through personal contacts that match job seekers to employers.2 In a nutshell, there is a consensus that a negative relationship between crime and employment exists – the incarceration of young men and women “obstructs” the access to stable careers.3 However, most studies done so far tend to analyze both juvenile incarceration and pretrial juvenile detention together. Yet, it is extremely important to differentiate between these two useful policy solutions are to be offered. In brief, incarceration of the minion is the long-term confinement of convicted and sentenced offenders while young people held in pre-trial detention are awaiting trial and are presumed innocent unless and until their case is handled in court.4 Pre-trial detention is considered an exceptional measure in most of the legal systems which is applied when objectively there is no other less harmful measure for the person under investigation. While it is hard to determine the exact number of juveniles held in pre-trial detention, thousands of young people in the United States are held in juvenile detention facilities pending trial.5 So, does pretrial juvenile detention influence the job prospects of these young people? Most of the attention so far has been allocated on the fact that incarceration is used as an “indicator” by future employers in defining what type of person one is likely to be.6 Incarceration seems to create a stigma that will result in structural obstacles that hamper successful reintegration into society. While future research is needed in this area, it could follow from the existing literature that because stigma connected to criminal justice contact decreases the chances of employment, little difference is to be expected in the effects of arrest, pretrial detention, conviction, probation, or incarceration.7 Besides, a significant oversight of the juvenile justice system is the failure to offer career preparation programs.8 Not much is known about education programs in pre-trial juvenile detention centers since the studies that have examined juvenile justice education have been conducted in correctional facilities rather than detention centers.9 An essential contextual difference between juvenile detention centers and jails is the length and certainty of students’ stay.10 Generally, detention centers are built on security concerns which is justified by the short-term nature of the detention. The point that I would like to raise is that whatever the time spent in pretrial detention, education should be provided. Juvenile pretrial detention creates a stigma that has devastating consequences on the mental and social state of these young individuals and education should not be an added consequence. Education must be an accessible tool to facilitate their reinsertion in society and assist their career building.
1. “What Is the Long-Term Impact of Incarcerating Juveniles?,” VOX, CEPR Policy Portal, accessed November 19, 2021, https://voxeu.org/article/what-long-term-impact-incarcerating-juveniles.
2. Bruce Western, Jeffrey R. Kling, and David F. Weiman, “The Labor Market Consequences of Incarceration,” Crime & Delinquency 47, no. 3 (2001): pp. 410-427, https://doi.org/10.1177/0011128701047003007, 413.
3. Bruce Western, Jeffrey R. Kling, and David F. Weiman, “The Labor Market Consequences of Incarceration,” Crime & Delinquency 47, no. 3 (2001): pp. 410-427, https://doi.org/10.1177/0011128701047003007, 414.
4. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, “Juvenile Detention Explained,” The Annie E. Casey Foundation, November 14, 2020, https://www.aecf.org/blog/what-is-juvenile-detention.
5. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, “Juvenile Detention Explained,” The Annie E. Casey Foundation, November 14, 2020, https://www.aecf.org/blog/what-is-juvenile-detention.
6. Robert Apel and Gary Sweeten, “The Impact of Incarceration on Employment during the Transition to Adulthood,” Society for the Study of Social Problems, 2010, https://doi.org/10.1525/sp.2010.57.3.448, 451.
7. Bruce Western, Jeffrey R. Kling, and David F. Weiman, “The Labor Market Consequences of Incarceration,” Crime & Delinquency 47, no. 3 (2001): pp. 410-427, https://doi.org/10.1177/0011128701047003007, 414.
8. Lane Roos, “National Impact: The Effects of Career Development on Employment Among Juvenile Offenders,” National Forum of Educational Administration and Supervision Journal 23, no. 4 (2006): pp. 1-8, 2.
9. Perie Reiko Koyama. “The Status of Education in Pre-Trial Juvenile Detention,” Journal of Correctional Education 63, no. 1 (2012): pp. 35–68, 36.
10. Perie Reiko Koyama. “The Status of Education in Pre-Trial Juvenile Detention,” Journal of Correctional Education 63, no. 1 (2012): pp. 35–68, 58.