Illinois Youth Prison Data Show Chronic Truancy-Crime Link


Of 182 boys and young men recently locked up in Illinois’ three medium-security youth prisons, at least 135 missed so much school that they were labeled chronic truants, the Chicago Tribune reports. Nearly 60 percent couldn’t read at the third-grade level when they were booked in. At the largest of the three facilities all but nine of the 72 youths had dropped out of school entirely by the time they were incarcerated. The data, calculated by the Tribune from newly obtained state prison data, serve as a grim reminder that absence from school in the early grades is often the first warning of criminal misconduct that can destroy young lives as well as burden society with the costs of street violence, welfare, and prison. The records underscore the stark consequences of a crisis in K-8 grade truancy and absenteeism in Chicago that officials long ignored but have promised to address after a Tribune investigation that found tens of thousands of city elementary students miss a month or more of school in a year.

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