Education for young offenders is priority of new task force

By Mellany Armstrong 1:08pm, May 5, 2014 - Updated 4:15pm, May 5, 2014
VIDEO: WDEL's Mellany Armstrong reports.
A new task force makes education a priority for kids in the juvenile justice system.

WDEL's Mellany Armstrong.

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18-year-old Eduardo Griffith supports the creation of the Youth Re-Entry Education Task Force, because it gives kids like him a second chance.

"Even though they haven't made the best decisions in the past, hopefully something clicks, like it did for me," he said.

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Governor Markell signed the executive order Monday at the Ferris School for Boys. Griffith is in a transition program after spending time at the Ferris School.

"I didn't have a choice. It was either get the GED or go back into the community and do the same things, and I couldn't do that. I couldn't do that," he said.

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Now he's looking forward to attending college.

Jennifer Ranji, secretary of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, says out of 184 juveniles in their custody in Fiscal Year 2013, only 11 had returned to a traditional school setting by the end of the year, 93 withdrew or failed to go back to school, and 42 landed in alternative placements.

"The remaining two-thirds of those youth were either receiving no educational services at all, or they were back in a juvenile justice or adult corrective system setting," she said.

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New Ferris School Principal Rod Sutton says he's already seen a turnaround among those who take classes.

"It is imperative that as a community of concerned adults we wrap around our young people the intentional supports to help them be successful when they are discharged from our care," he said.

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The task force will develop recommendations to help young people when they return to their communities. The report is due in December.

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