Service Coordination between Correctional and Public School Systems for Handicapped Juvenile Offenders

By Lewis, Kathleen A.; Schwartz, Gail M. et al. | Exceptional Children, September 1988 | Go to article overview

Service Coordination between Correctional and Public School Systems for Handicapped Juvenile Offenders


Lewis, Kathleen A., Schwartz, Gail M., Ianacone, Robert N., Exceptional Children


Service Coordination Between Correctional and Public School Systems for Handicapped Juvenile Offenders

A number of recurring themes relate to the provision of appropriate educational services to adjudicated youth, especially those with disabilities. An historical review of the literature indicates that correctional education programs have been plagued by a range of philosophical and programmatic concerns. For example, Horvath (1982) indicated that disagreement and uncertainty about the goals, needs, and objectives of correctional education result in a lack of comprehensive planning and interagency cooperation. Interagency cooperation and planning are further hampered by conflicting philosophies and goals of education and corrections agencies. Because maintenance of order and discipline are of central importance in correctional facilities, these custodial needs and educational needs of incarcerated youth and adults are often in conflict with one another (Horvath, 1982; Peterson, Friend, & Martin, 1976). Other obstacles that interfere with the ability of correctional facilities to provide effective education programs include the transitory nature of the population, conflicting agency mandates and philosophies, and the lack of interagency and intraagency cooperation.

The inherent problems are further compounded by the educational needs of handicapped offenders, a significant proportion of the incarcerated juvenile population. The literature consistently reports handicapped incidence rates ranging from 20% to 42% in the correctional population (Dunivant, 1982; Morgan, 1979; Rutherford, Nelson, & Wolford, 1985; Schuster & Guggenheim, 1982). This contrasts strikingly to the 10% to 12% prevalence of handicapping conditions in the general population (U.S. Department of Education, 1984). Since the passage of Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1974, correctional administrators have begun to pay greater attention to the special education programming needs of handicapped offenders in order to comply with legal mandates. Heightened awareness of the existence and needs of this population on the parts of both correctional and public school personnel has caused close scrutiny of actual compliance with and implementation of P. L. 94-142.

A recent Government Accounting Office (GAO) investigation of a large inner-city juvenile services agency identified a number of gaps in required special education service delivery, confirming the problems that practitioners have noted (Dodaro & Salvemini, 1985). This investigation supports theoretical discussions suggesting that linkages between the public school system and the correctional education system are needed, but are not being provided (Richey & Willis, 1982; Smith & Hockenberry, 1980; Smith, Ramirez, & Rutherford, 1983). As Rutherford et al. stated, "correctional education is underscored by the near absence of transitional programs. The courts, probation officers, and correctional education programs need to establish effective linkages with public schools to facilitate the exchange of educational information" (1985, p. 67). Dodaro and Salvemini (1985) pointed out that insufficient information, lack of service coordination, and poor information exchange affect the appropriate identification, placement, and education of handicapped juvenile offenders.

To date, little research has been conducted to examine current practices that facilitate the effective transition of handicapped, juvenile offenders into juvenile correctional institutions and reintegration back into the public schools. To provide a basis for further study of these issues, public school special education directors and correctional education directors in a five-state area were polled. Survey questions focused on information exchange, transference of records, liaison services, contact during incarceration, and referral for aftercare support services. …

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Service Coordination between Correctional and Public School Systems for Handicapped Juvenile Offenders
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