Students with Disabilities and the Correctional System
Rutherford, Robert B., et al., "Youth with Disabilities in the Correctional System: Prevalence Rates and Identification Issues," Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice (July 2002).
This paper examines the prevalence of disabilities among children in correctional facilities and the challenge of providing a quality education to those children, both while in the correctional facility and once they re-enter the community. The paper summarizes the results of several studies that demonstrate higher rates of disability among children in correctional facilities than in the “general population.” Specifically, one such study shows that children and youth in correctional facilities are 4 to 5 times more likely to have disabilities than the general population. The paper finds that 7-10% of children and youth in public schools are estimated to have some kind of disability while 20-60% of youth in the correctional system are categorized as having some type of disability. The paper also examines the difficulties associated with diagnosing youth with the accurate category of disability to ensure that they receive needed services, and the negative impact of misdiagnosis. The paper emphasizes three categories of disabilities: specific learning disability (SLD), emotional disturbance (ED), and mental retardation (MR). The article defines each category according to federal definitions and notes its prevalence among children in juvenile correctional facilities. The article recommends changing how disabilities are defined and improving intake and assessment of children in correctional facilities in order to increase their access to special education services.
Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice