IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

Number of Juvenile Offenders in Residential Placement Falls; Racial/Ethnic Gaps Persist

By Lauren Musu-Gillette and Joel McFarland

Juvenile offenders held in residential placement facilities often experience disruptions to their education as they pass in and out of traditional schooling. While most facilities provide middle- and high-school-level educational services, these services are generally not comparable to those available in their community schools.[i] Understanding the characteristics of juveniles in these facilities can help educators and policy-makers in finding the best ways to support education for these youth.  

Between 1997 and 2013, the number of youth in residential placement facilities fell by nearly 50 percent, from approximately 105,000 to just over 54,000.[ii] While the overall decline is informative, the residential placement rate (the number of juvenile offenders in residential facilities per 100,000 youth in the general population) provides a more comparable measurement across time because it accounts for population growth and demographic changes. The overall residential placement rate fell from 356 per 100,000 youth in 1997 to 173 per 100,000 in 2013. Following this trend, the residential placement rate for youth in various racial and ethnic subgroups also fell significantly as seen in the chart below.


Residential placement rate (number of juvenile offenders in residential placement facilities) per 100,000 juveniles, by race/ethnicity: Selected years, 1997 through 2013

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement (CJRP).


Although residential placement rates declined for all racial/ethnic groups, disparities between racial/ethnic groups persist. In 2013, the residential placement rate for Black youth was 4.6 times the rate for White youth, and the rate for Hispanic youth was 1.7 times the rate for White youth. The American Indian/Alaska Native rate was 3.3 times the White rate, and the residential placement rate for Asian/Pacific Islander youth was approximately one-quarter of the rate for White youth (0.28).

The residential placement rate per 100,000 youth was also higher for Black males than for males or females of any other racial/ethnic group. Overall, Black males made up over one-third (35 percent) of all youth in residential placement in 2013. The rate of residential placement for Black males in 2013 was 804 per 100,000, which was 1.6 times the rate for American Indian/Alaska Native males, 2.7 times the rate for Hispanic males, 5 times the rate for White males, and more than 16 times the rate for Asian/Pacific Islander males.

While residential placement rates were lower for females than males from all racial/ethnic groups, there were also differences between racial/ethnic groups for females. The residential placement rate was highest for American Indian/Alaska Native females. This rate was 3.7 times the rate for Hispanic females, 4.8 times the rate for White females, and over 20 times the rate for Asian/Pacific Islander females. The rate for Black females was also more than twice the rate for Hispanic, White, and Asian/Pacific Islander females.


Residential placement rate (number of juvenile offenders in residential placement facilities) per 100,000 juveniles, by race/ethnicity and sex: 2013

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement (CJRP).


Older youth made up a greater share of juveniles in residential placement than younger youth in 2013. A majority (69 percent) of juveniles in residential facilities were between the ages of 16 and 20; about 30 percent were between the ages of 13 and 15; and just 1 percent were age 12 or younger.

For more information on juvenile offenders in residential placement facilities, including data on the characteristics of those facilities, please see the full spotlight in Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2015.


[i] Hockenberry, S., Sickmund, M., and Sladky, A. (2013). Juvenile Residential Facility Census, 2010: Selected Findings. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved November 2015 from http://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/241134.pdf; The Council of State Governments Justice Center. (2015). Locked Out: Improving Educational and Vocational Outcomes for Incarcerated Youth. New York: Author. Retrieved November 2015 from https://csgjusticecenter.org/youth/publications/locked-out-improving-educational-and-vocational-outcomes-for-incarcerated-youth/.

[ii] Data presented here come from the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement (CJRP). The CJRP is a biennial survey of all secure and nonsecure residential placement facilities that house juvenile offenders, defined as persons younger than 21 who are held in a residential setting as a result of some contact with the justice system (i.e., being charged with or adjudicated for an offense). The CJRP provides a 1-day count of the number of youth in residential placement, as well as data on the characteristics of youth in these facilities and information about the facilities themselves.

My Brother’s Keeper: Using data to measure the educational progress of boys and young men of color

By Grace Kena

In February 2014, President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper. This effort was designed to promote opportunity for and to unlock the full potential of the nation’s young people, including boys and young men of color, with help from government agencies, community leaders, private philanthropies, and businesses. As part of this initiative, federal agencies were asked to improve the accessibility of data that highlight both the challenges and the accomplishments of young people in progressing through the education system and entering the labor force. These statistics provide a composite view of recent trends for males and females across a variety of key dimensions.

Academic performance gaps in learning behaviors, knowledge, and skills, among children in various racial/ethnic groups are found as early as infancy,[1] preschool, and kindergarten[2]. In addition, children from lower-income families tend to have poorer educational outcomes than their peers from more well- off families, and relatively high percentages of males and females of color live in poverty. The latest data show that among 12th graders, the average reading and mathematics assessment scores for Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native 12th-graders were lower than the average scores for their peers. In addition, the percentage of Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds who had not completed high school was higher than the average percentage. The percentages of Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native young men in this age group who were enrolled in college were also lower than the average, and the percentages of Black and Hispanic young men ages 25–29 who had earned a bachelor’s or higher degree were lower than the average for young men in this age group.

On the other hand, young people are making progress in education. For example, average mathematics scores increased between 2005 and 2013 for all male students as well as for Black and Hispanic students overall. The percentage of males ages 18–24 who had not completed high school decreased from 2000 to 2014 for most racial/ethnic groups, and the decreases for Black and Hispanic young men were among the largest. In addition, the percentages of Black and Hispanic young men in this age group who were enrolled in college increased from 2000 to 2013.


Percentage of male 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in 2- and 4-year colleges, by race/ethnicity: 2000 and 2013

Figure. Percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in 2- and 4-year colleges, by race/ethnicity and sex: 2013

! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2013. 


More education data from the My Brother’s Keeper initiative can be found in the feature in The Condition of Education 2015, and on the My Brother’s Keeper data site. Information on changes to existing programs and the creation of new public-private partnerships designed to meet the needs of young people are available on the White House site. You can also learn more about the findings from the video below:

This blog was originally posted on June 24, 2015 and was updated on August 6, 2015

[1] National Center for Education Statistics. The Condition of Education 2009, Indicators 2 and 3. 

[2] Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.