Monday, October 4, 2010

Juvenile Offenders Receive Diplomas, GED’s in Ventura

68 Youth also Enrolled in Community College Courses

SACRAMENTO – Fifty-one juvenile offenders from the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility will achieve a major academic milestone Friday, October 1, when they receive either a high school diploma or a GED during graduation ceremonies from Mary B. Perry High School.

They join 116 youthful offenders who have earned diplomas or GED’s from Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facilities in Stockton and Ione earlier this summer, bringing the year’s total of graduates to 167.

“A high school education is critical for youthful offenders to build successful lives as they prepare to return to their communities,” said Rachel Rios, Acting Chief Deputy Secretary of DJJ, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “An education opens doors for our youth to have more opportunities to turn their lives around and become productive members of society” said Rios. “Those opportuities reduce recidivism, which improves public safety.”

The graduation day is also an opportunity for the youth to share their success with family members, many of whom are expected to attend the ceremony, reflecting the importance of family involvement in the state’s juvenile justice programs.

DJJ operates a high school in each of its youth correctional facilities that is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The accreditation ensures that youth receive the same education they would receive in their communities, including special education. Those standards require youth to be in classrooms for the state-mandated 240 minutes a day, 210 days a year.

The educational needs of each youth are assessed when they are committed to the DJJ. Youth are enrolled in a curriculum to receive a high school diploma or a GED for those who are not expected to remain at DJJ long enough to earn a diploma, ensuring that every youth receives a high school education before they are discharged.

Since March 2005, when DJJ adopted a remedial plan for education, approximately 5,000 youth have achieved some level of academic performance, from high school diplomas or GEDs, to enrollment in vocational or continuing education classes. That represents a 300 percent increase over previous years, despite a significant decline in the number of youth who are committed to the DJJ by the courts.

In addition, approximately 50 percent of youth who are eligible have enrolled in college classes, including 68 males and females at the Ventura facility who are taking distance-learning classes offered by Coastline College and Ventura Community College.

More information regarding Division of Juvenile Justice programs is available at Justice.