In the United States,  48,000 young people are held in detention facilities each day. That’s 48,000 young people separated from their families, schools, communities, and the lives they sought to build.

Though the criminal legal system exists to decrease crime, it often sets the stage for a significant likelihood of young people reoffending. Data show 55 percent of young people who have been incarcerated are rearrested within one year of their release, with almost half of them returning to residential facilities. And largely because of systemic racism embedded in the legal system, Black, Latinx, and Native young people experience the highest rates of incarceration—ultimately widening racial and ethnic disparities in life outcomes, including employment.

But one alternative could decrease the recidivism rate and divert young people away from the criminal legal system altogether.

Apprenticeships are an “earn and learn” career pathway that combine classroom instruction with on-the-job paid learning and mentoring. The mutually beneficial apprenticeship structure can address many core catalysts for offending behaviors that contribute to youth recidivism while benefiting employers and the criminal legal system.

Apprenticeships can address some factors that lead to youth recidivism

Research shows that reentry services and aftercare programs that connect people with professional case managers, mentors, education, and employment opportunities can reduce recidivism. Here are four ways the apprenticeship model facilitates this:

  • Apprenticeships feature an education component.
  • Apprenticeships provide a career pathway. 
  • Apprenticeships allow young people to “earn and learn.”
  • Apprenticeships offer a support system.

Read the full article about apprenticeships by Shruti Nayak and Leslee Haisma at Urban Institute.