The Metamorphosis of Juvenile Correctional Education: Incidental Conception to Intentional Inclusion
Keeley, James H., Journal of Correctional Education
Juvenile Correctional Education has been evolving in the United States for over 360 years. From inclusion in an indentured servant/foster care type of placement legislated in the Massachusetts Colony in 1642, it has become manifest today as an entitlement regardless of juvenile justice disposition.
The education for juveniles was wrapped in the cocoon of the dominant justice system throughout the history of the United States. Its emergence was initially indistinguishable because education was incidental to other incarceration management and treatment modalities. As differentiated placement was adopted, education for religious purposes from the ministerial community edged into prison regimens. Juvenile offenders benefited because they were commingled in the common jails and workhouses of the Colonial Era.
A clear distinction in providing education to juveniles appeared during the Refuge House and Reform Era of the Nineteenth Century. The judiciary and social reformers touted education as a basis for new types of institutions such as reformatories and industrial schools. This era established education within juvenile justice with a focus on basic and practical skills. It was generally accepted by correctional authorities and social reformers that this level of education was the most appropriate for these youth.
A more comprehensive provision of education gradually emerged during the Professional and Political Patronage Era of the Twentieth Century. Through the efforts of special interests in the greater society after World War II, the actions within the professional and political domains enriched the requirements of free and appropriate education for all youth. Juvenile offenders have benefited through inclusion as an identified group within the mandates of education for all youth. The impact of these influences is having a positive effect on the education programs in residential placement institutions across the United States.
Education for troublesome youth in the United States has evolved from being part of the early treatment modalities for evil children as practiced in the Puritan Colonies in North America to an entitlement in the Twenty-first Century to help assuage the malevolence of a youth's environment. Along the way, correctional education was used as one of the reasons to justify workhouses, houses of refuge, reformatories, and industrial schools. In these settings, education was purported to be for the benefit of the incarcerates, but in reality it became an integral cog in the maintenance of institutions and cultural domination by the established society. The lofty aspirations of progressives and reformers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries got lost in the daily operation and management of institutions by bureaucrats. By the Twenty-first Century, juvenile correctional education was included in the protections afforded by legislation such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Amendments Act of 1997. Legislation, in conjunction with professional standards, has established high-level benchmarks that juvenile justice and educational providers are striving to achieve.
In this paper, the metamorphosis of juvenile correctional education in the United States will be discussed in relation to significant periods: Puritan Era 1642 - 1700, Early American Colonies and the New Republic Era 1700 - 1824, Refuge and Reform Era 1824 - 1899, and the Professional and Political Patronage Era 1900 - Present. Within each of these periods, juvenile correctional education slowly emerged within the larger movements for child protection and public safety.
Puritan Era (1646 - 1700)
The range of education that had extended beyond the European churches and nobility to the general population was diverse. For religious instruction in the colonies, different denominations employed minister/teachers that provided a very parochial form of education. …