Juvenile hall inhibits students’ graduation rates, college dreams

A single mistake can hinder students’ successes in school and life

Jessica Rodrigues, Photography Editor

In 2015 sophomore Diego Laniohan made the life-changing mistake of getting intoxicated on New Year’s Eve and throwing a chunk of cement at a firetruck. He was arrested and charged with use of a deadly weapon and destruction of government property. Sentenced to one month in the French Camp juvenile detention center, Laniohan was removed from his school and life in Stockton.

According to Frontline’s “Juvenile Vs Adult Justice,” juvenile justice systems are designed to meet the primary goals of rehabilitation and treatment, along with community protection. They act to not simply deter the accused but to educate and reintegrate the youth to be aware of moralities in society.

But statistics provided by economists Anna Aizer and Joseph Doyle in “What Is the Long-term Impact of Incarcerating Juveniles?” reveal that on average, those involved in the juvenile system have their chances of graduating high school decreased by 13 percent. These are youth who have only been charged with a crime and not even actually incarcerated. Those who were jailed had their graduation rate decrease by 39 percent.

This correlation is statistically significant not only proving the correlation between time in the court system and graduation rate, but also leading to the assumption that the goals of the juvenile system may not be as easy to carry out in reality.

The youth not only have the physical stresses of handling the processes of the system but also the mental and psychological challenges that arise as their daily life changes.

“I was only in there for a month, but I was still worried [that teachers’] perceptions of me would change, and it did,” sophomore Diego Laniohan said. “I started getting in trouble more when they realized I had the ankle bracelet.”

This not only affected Laniohan’s confidence but also affected his grades. He had less time and opportunity to catch up with the other students and said his grades “went low and never got back up.”

“[At the center] you get one hour of rec time, go to school, and then you get to go out again,” Laniohan said. “But the teachers don’t care about anybody…and the students don’t care about learning.”

Not only does juvenile detention affect the teens’ educations but it also subsequently continues to ruin their possibilities for jobs. The National Bureau of Economic Research states that “jailing youth (age 16-25) reduced work time over the next decade by 25-30 percent.”

With so many statistical disadvantages placed upon kids leaving the juvenile system and little encouragement from the staff there, it appears as if all odds are against them.

However, Laniohan currently has aspirations to go to college in Monterey and get a job as a forensic anthropologist. His grades did rise when on probation but afterwards he had no real motivation to do well.

“In the back of my mind I know I need to get my grades up to go to college and it encourages me, but with the peers I’m with, it’s a battle between them and my grades,” Laniohan said.