The National Center on Education, Disability and Juvenile Justice

What We Do

The National Center on Education, Disability and Juvenile Justice

The disproportionate representation of incarcerated youth with disabilities is increasingly recognized as an urgent national problem. In 1997, an expert panel convened by several federal agencies recommended a series of actions to the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention concerning the relationship between disability and involvement in the juvenile court and correctional systems. An outcome of that work was the National Center on Education, Disability and Juvenile Justice (EDJJ), established in 1999 through a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), and the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). EDJJ was organized as a collaborative project of the University of Maryland, Arizona State University, University of Kentucky, American Institutes for Research and PACER parent advocacy center.

EDJJ focuses on assisting practitioners, policymakers, researchers and advocates to identify and implement effective school-based delinquency prevention programs, education and special education services in juvenile correctional facilities, and transition supports for youth re-entering their schools and communities from secure care settings.

In August 2004, EDJJ received additional grant funding from OSEP to continue and expand our work. Currently, we are focusing on improving the poor literacy skills that are common among incarcerated youth by developing and disseminating evidence-based educational interventions specifically tailored for use in juvenile correctional facilities. Additional information about our research, training activities, publications and other resources is available on our website.

In August 2006, federal support for EDJJ activities ended. EDJJ continues as an affiliation of individuals involved in the original project as well as those interested in supporting quality education for incarcerated youth and those at-risk for incarceration. Faculty and staff at the University of Maryland and Arizona State University will maintain the website, disseminate information, and continue to promote prevention, appropriate services for incarcerated youth, and transition and support as youth return to their communities.

EDJJ Activities
EDJJ conducts research, provides technical assistance and disseminates resources based on the best available evidence. EDJJ provides consultation and professional development to education, court and corrections personnel at the state and local levels. The unifying goal of EDJJ activities in each of these areas is to improve educational and related outcomes for court-involved and at-risk youth, and to change perceptions about their capacity for achievement and success. Toward that end, EDJJ also maintains a national network of practitioners, administrators, policymakers and parents to help promote more effective and appropriate policies, responses and accommodations for youth with disabilities in education and correctional settings.

Core Beliefs
At least three to five times as many youth with disabilities are involved with the courts and corrections compared with the general public school population. The overrepresentation of youth with disabilities in juvenile corrections is associated with school failure and dropout, poorly developed social skills, and inadequate school and community services. While a number of theories have been developed to explain overrepresentation, there is a limited knowledge base to enable professionals, parents and policy makers to systematically respond to this problem. EDDJ will develop, analyze and disseminate data to inform policy and practices concerning youth with disabilities at-risk for or already involved in the juvenile justice system and ultimately, reduce the absolute number and percentage of youth involved in corrections.

Center Priorities
EDJJ will conduct research, policy analysis, training and technical assistance activities designed to minimize the involvement of youth with disabilities in juvenile courts and correctional facilities. Among other initiatives, EDJJ will:

Clarify factors that contribute to the substantial overrepresentation of youth with disabilities.
Examine the association between and the consequences of school failure, school exclusion and incarceration among youth with disabilities.
Identify and disseminate more effective educational interventions for youth with disabilities who are at-risk for involvement with the juvenile courts, and for incarcerated youth with disabilities, with emphasis on improving literacy skills.
Establish criteria for implementing promising education, special education and transition practices in correctional settings.
Produce and widely disseminate blueprints of effective practices for local replication.
Provide training and technical assistance to national, state, regional and local systems and agencies concerning delinquency prevention and intervention.
Evaluate state and local policies that promote or impede the development of effective juvenile correctional educational programs.
Mobilize a national commitment to ensure adequate services for students with disabilities in the community and in juvenile correctional facilities.


Please email EDJJ with any questions and/or comments
University of Maryland, 1224 Benjamin Building College Park, MD 20742
Phone (301) 405-6462 Fax (301) 314-5757

For information about the website or to be linked to EDJJ,
email the webmaster.