The importance of education to succeed in today’s society is well documented and recognized by courts, but is not adequately provided to the over 96,000 juveniles who are confined each year in the name of rehabilitation. This Note argues that children in juvenile detention have a right to an adequate education based on state constitutional guarantees of education. This right can be used to challenge the inadequacy of the current educational services provided in juvenile detention facilities. The argument proceeds in three parts. Part I provides background on the juvenile justice system, explains the importance of education in juvenile detention, and surveys the applicable federal statutes and corresponding litigation. Part II briefly discusses potential federal constitutional challenges based on the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause, but concludes that these challenges are unlikely to be successful. Part III argues that state constitutional guarantees of education are applicable to students in juvenile detention facilities. First, it analyzes the contours of the state rights to education as interpreted in school finance litigation. Second, it responds to the main objection that children in juvenile detention have sacrificed their right to education by arguing that (1) the purpose of confinement is rehabilitation, which is consistent with the right to education, and (2) even if the purpose of confinement is punishment, it does not follow that juveniles have sacrificed their right to education. Third, it analyzes specific challenges that could be raised by children in juvenile detention. Part IV concludes that given the acceptance of the adequacy conception of the right to education, the time is ripe to challenge the inadequacy of education currently provided in juvenile detention.
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