by Claire Miller
When he was conducting research at the MacLeron Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn, Ore., Mike Bullis became interested in the transitions the teenagers who went through the facility made when they left.
Bullis, who now serves as the dean of the University of Oregon’s College of Education, received two five-year grants to track these students in the mid-1990s. The data he collected still rings true today and can be used to shape intervention methods for teens who go through the juvenile justice system.
“We need to go back to the notion that what we do as a school system should include these kids,” he told College of Education faculty, students and staff at the Jan. 26 Research Wednesdays.
Bullis used a program called Transition Research on Adjudicated Youth in Community Settings (TRACS) to gather demographic, educational and social data on students in the correctional facility. He conducted interviews with the more than 500 teens and their families at six-month intervals following their incarceration and discovered that the first 12 months following a teen’s release from a correctional facility are the most important.
“Ninety-eight percent of the kids who come back into the correctional system do so within the first 12 months,” he explained. “If they can stay out for a 12-month period, they do not come back. If you could get a kid working at six months, they were almost two and a half times more likely to be employed at 12 months. This is hugely important for setting up intervention techniques.”
With this data, Bullis hopes to see more schools provide resources for students who go through the juvenile justice system.
“We need to set up structures that allow them to finish school,” he said. “We need to have multi-agency collaborations, service coordination, staff training and family involvement.”
The Research Wednesdays Speaker Series is designed to fulfill three goals: to provide a platform for explorations of new ways of conducting and disseminating educational research, to discuss new methods of mentoring doctoral students in an effort to enhance their development as researchers, and to fill a professional development need by providing access to cutting edge researchers at the state and national levels.
For more information about Bullis and the Research Wednesdays Speaker Series, visit http://education.gsu.edu/main/news/res_wed.htm.