Without Diploma, Prison Often Inevitable, Study Shows

Published October 12, 2009

Dropping out of high school seems to be a surefire way to land in the university of the penitentiary.

An alarming new study has found that on any given day about one in every 10 young male dropouts is in jail or juvenile detention, compared with one in 35 high school graduates who are incarcerated, The New York Times reports. For African-American male dropouts, the findings were even more shocking: Nearly one in four of them are incarcerated or otherwise institutionalized on any given day.

It used to be that anyone not finishing high school would wind up in a low-paying, low-skill job, but with the economy so jacked up, there are increasingly fewer of those jobs available, the study suggests.

“We’re trying to show what it means to be a dropout in the 21st century United States,” Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern, told the Times. “It’s one of the country’s costliest problems. The unemployment, the incarceration rates — it’s scary.”

The center relied on census and other government data for the study, which tracks the employment, workplace, parenting and criminal justice, according to Sum, who headed a team of researchers that prepared the report.

A coalition of civil rights and public education advocacy groups and a network of alternative schools in Chicago commissioned the report as part of a push for new educational opportunities for the nation’s 6.2 million high school dropouts, the Times reports. The National Urban League is one such group.

“The dropout rate is driving the nation’s increasing prison population, and it’s a drag on America’s economic competitiveness,” said Urban League President Marc H. Morial. “This report makes it clear that every American pays a cost when a young person leaves school without a diploma.”

 

Written by <P>By BET.com Staff</P>

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