2016 Issue


The Impact of Secure Detention for Truancy on Educational and Juvenile Justice Outcomes: A Cross System Analyses in Colorado
Diane R. Fox, Ph.D., Center for Research Strategies
Tara S. Wass, Ph.D., Center for Research Strategies
Sarah McGuire, M.S., Center for Research Strategies
Carli Friss, B.A., Center for Research Strategies
Pages 1-15

While there is substantial literature to suggest that low level offenders should not be securely detained, there is little literature specific to the truancy population. There is considerable debate on the utility of secure detention for youth found truant but very little data to inform that debate. This study investigated the relation between the utilization of secure detention as a sanction for truancy and juvenile justice and educational outcomes. Youth with court oversight for truancy were matched to data from education, juvenile justice, and child welfare to examine events and services that preceded and followed truancy court involvement. Logistic regression models were created to predict detention for truancy, subsequent criminal filings, and high school graduation. Results indicate that local practices impact the likelihood of truancy detention to a greater extent than individual youth factors. Furthermore, truancy detention is a significant contributor to the likelihood of committing subsequent criminal offenses and makes graduating from high school 14.5 times less likely to occur for detained youth than for youth found truant but not detained. Results of this study could be used to educate policy and other decision makers about the lack of successful outcomes associated with securely detaining youth found truant. Download Article