The school to prison connection
Have you ever heard of the connection between schools & prisons? If, you are like common parents probably not…The school- to -prison pipeline is the process of criminalizing youth by carrying out disciplinary policies and practices within a school system that puts children in connection with law enforcement. In today’s society, it’s normal to see armed officers in school after decades of school shootings. The Columbine, Sandy Hooks, Red Lake, West Nickel, Parkland, FL and countless other school shootings have changed the dynamic of the learning environment for our children. As a parent, I welcomed these changes as a deterrent from future issues. What I did not know as a parent that there was a dark side to this protection we seek.
” Our children are being targeted to satisfy corporate greed and children of color are the number one victim“
Zero-tolerance policies that have been adopted by schools across the nation have unfortunately criminalized minor infractions of the school rules or policies that lead to students being pushed out of schools. These zero-tolerance policies have expelled students for things like nail clippers or scissors. What is this world coming too? These aggressive disciplinary policies push students into the justice system and the people of color are affected more than any other demographic. (1) With the lack of staffing, the school hallways are now patrolled like correction officers in a detention center. Today, a student is far more likely to gain an arrest at school, and in most cases, they are non-violent offenses like disruptive behavior. In the state of Ohio, up to 80% of the cases do not have lawyers present. (2) Given the alarming connection between suspensions from school and some engagement with the justice system, coupled with racial bias among police these numbers are common knowledge. The chances of a student that has any involvement with the justice system graduating are limited. (3)
The School to prison pipeline is one of the most stringent concerns among social workers and activists alike. The moment one takes a moment and looks deep into understanding the cause-and-effect of this dilemma has to be examined & disrupted. It’s only after this will we prevent the rising rate of the students-converted-to-criminals syndrome.
It will be relevant to account the finding of social research among students, conducted recently:
- In Chicago, the total count of expulsions from school rises from 21 in the year 1999-2000 to more than 1500 by 2017-2018.
- In between the same span, the instances of students’ arrest grew by 8 times.
My question to you… Is the adoption of the Zero Tolerance policy been for the betterment of the students?
Exclusion from studies means a student has hardly any work to do. So, how he/she is going to spend a span of 24 hours? It has been found that each instance of school exclusion, paves the way to enter the domain of crime. Here comes evidence to support this claim:
- Nearly 80% of the juvenile offenders in New York have a history of exclusion from studies or is a school/college drop out
- In 2017, nearly 60% of Juvenile offenders in Nigeria were excluded from schools and colleges.
Thus, school/college dropouts and exclusion from studies for any reason are likely to take the concerned student behind the bars.
Harsh Punishment is more likely to give birth to a criminal, rather than rectifying a student
Researches conducted among youth criminals have exhibited the fact that they committed their first offense to avenge for the humility of the harsh punishment they faced. As such, it is indeed needed to introspect for better ways to bring rectification in students, rather than treating them as grave offenders.
- Advancement Project, Education on Lockdown: The schoolhouse to jailhouse track (Mar.2005), pg. 15
- ACLU, The Children’s Law Center & The Office of the Ohio State Public Defender, A Call to amend the Ohio rules of juvenile procedure to protect the right to counsel (Jan. 2006), p.1
- Thoughtco: thoughtco.com/school-to-prision-pipline (accessed 11/6/19)