At MacLaren Juvenile Detention Facility in Woodburn, Oregon, the boys who are placed there spend each school day where they should be – at school. They sleep in prison beds, but during the day, they attend a regular school and get the usual teachings – from math to science, and English.
State educators and justice officials feel that this is a tremendous start for these kids because keeping them in school and completing their education might be what it takes to keep them out of the system as adults.
Not only are students gaining their high school educations, but they can also have opportunities that they might not in another facility.
One example is how an advanced auto mechanics class is partnered with the local community college so the students can gain certification. Some will learn how to fight wildfires and woodworking. For the students that are advanced, and in their late teens to the early 20s who are ready to move into the public a bit, an opportunity to work out in the fields with local firefighters is also available.
Oregon is thought to be in the lead when it comes to efforts to help improve transitioning from juvenile detention facilities back into the workforce or public schools.
Juvenile justice experts feel that the steps that the state has taken to implement a system where every teenager that enters the juvenile justice system is given a parole officer that will be with them until they get out of the system are also a good step that encourages familiarity and comfort.
This allows parole officers to become a constant in the lives of kids that might not have positive role models.
Eventually, the steps that Oregon has taken will hopefully take hold across the entire United States and hopefully give kids that are in juvenile justice systems a chance to make a better adult life for themselves.