Youth & the School-to-Prison Pipeline By Amelia Borrayo, Alex Cervantes, Isabella Marra, Jacqueline Yanez, and Noelia Ramirez
The School-to-Prison Pipeline, defined:
A term to describe how American kids get pushed out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice system.
The disproportionate tendency of minors and young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds to become incarcerated because of increasingly harsh school and municipal policies.
Fair Housing Act
1968: The US passed the Fair Housing Act in an effort to eliminate housing discrimination, theoretically eliminating housing disparity
Too little, too late
Homes that were sold for $8,000 at the beginning of these discriminatory policies could now be sold for over $100,000
These homes were no longer affordable to POC that were excluded from the original subsidized price
Loss of economic mobility
Concentration of POC in ghettos and barrios
Valued less, seen as dangerous and unwanted, etc.
Design of Public School Campuses Mirrors Prison Grounds
Metal Detectors: In 2018, 94% of Indiana public schools requested handheld metal detectors to “improve school safety and security” (Chicago Tribune). The same discussion has been brought up in many other school districts across the country.
Barbed Wire Fences: In Coppell, Texas, the school district decided to enclose certain middle and high school facilities in barbed wire in order to keep “trespassers and vandalizers” off the school property (NBC).
Criminalizing Children with Disabilities
According to the Department of Education, 25% of all children arrested in school have disabilities.
A 10-year old boy (Benjamin Haygood) with Autism from Florida getting arrested on April 12, 2017, for kicking and scratching a special education teacher 6 months earlier.
In other words: white students are seen by society as suffering from ADHD and get the medical help they need, whereas Black and Latinx students are seen as criminals and/or destructive and are funneled into the school-to-prison pipeline.
Education and Juvenile Justice
The United States does not have a national education system or juvenile justice system. Instead each state, district or territory has a different juvenile justice system and education system, but they all have similar outcomes.
Juvenile Age Boundaries by State
States have different age boundaries that determine who can be considered a juvenile instead of an adult or if a child is too young to be charged with a crime.
- In most states the upper age boundary is 17 (or up to 18) to be to be considered a juvenile. Five states (GA, MI, MO, TX and WI) have an upper age of 16.
- Some states have established a lower age, but for most states have not. The lower age varies from 6 years old to 10 years old.
Every Student Succeeds Act
This policy is meant to help improve the educational opportunity and outcomes of low-income students by providing federal funding to schools that do not get enough financial support through state or local funding, like wealthier communities do.
Some requirements include annual testing, accountability, and school improvement:
- Schools are required to test students, from certain grades, annually.
- Schools need to be evaluated by the state on academic and non-academic factors.
- States need to provide support to the bottom 5 percent of schools who after being evaluated show that they are struggling.
Potential Solutions to the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Ending the Zero Tolerance Policy
Maya Angelou Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.
Hiring more counselors in schools rather than police/security
Electing officials that will actually work towards creating change in our educational and juvenile justice systems
Implicit bias training