THE SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE—DOES IT EXIST? AND, IF SO, WHAT CAN BE DONE IT ABOUT IT?
I spent much of last week in the Bay Area meeting with experts in the areas of juvenile justice, incarceration policy, school discipline reform, and other related issues. (This is all stuff that we’ll be reporting on in far greater depth in the next 18 months or so.)
Thus I was intrigued when I noticed that a media outlet had put together a multimedia package on what advocates and reformers refer to as the School-to-Prison Pipeline.
The buzz phrase is shorthand for the interweave of causes and effects that that many experts believe unnecessarily shoves certain kids out of school and into the criminal justice system.
Put another way, if we want fewer people languishing in our over crowded American jails and prisons, we need to look downstream and examine the problems in our juvenile justice systems, which have become feeders for our adult facilities. And one cannot talk about juvenile justice without looking still further downstream to our ailing educational systems—particularly the harmful and counterproductive pattern of school discipline known as Zero Tolerance, which effectively pushes more and more kids out of the classroom and into the juvenile justice system.
Voila! The School to prison pipeline.
Matters are made further problematic by the fact that African American and Latino kids are disproportionately represented in school suspensions, expulsions, and other forms of discipline that can result in a kid falling out of school and into a cell.
According to statistics from a 2009-10 sample study by the US Department of Education, African American students constituted 39 per cent of school expulsions while making up only 18 per cent of the sample population. These unequal disciplinary measures may have harmful secondary effects as well: results from one research study found African American kindergarteners were three times as likely to see themselves as academic failures compared to their Caucasian peers.
So which media outlet has been delving into these crucial topics affecting the health and well-being of our most vulnerable Americian kids and communities? The San Francisco Chronicle? Time Magazine? The LA Times?
Nope. It was Al Jazeera And they’ve gathered together a bunch of good elements—facts, charts and videos— that make these concepts accessible.
Anyway, take a look at Al Jazeera’s special on the School to Prison Pipeline package. I think you’ll find it worth your time.
REALIGNMENT, PART 3 – WHAT IS IT AND WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS SO FAR?
On Wednesday, KQED together with the Center for Investigative Reporting, continue their weeklong series on Realignment—the plan for reducing the population of state prison by moving big chunks of the responsibility for incarceration and reentry to the counties.
In this segment, KQED hosts an hourlong radio show featuring five perspectives of realignment as it stands now.
The five guests doing the discussing are:
THE PRISON GUY: Matthew Cate, the Dirctor of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the corrections person who’s been dealing with the problems on a state level
THE JUSTICE ADVOCATE: Dan Macallair, the executive director and co-founder of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, and a knowledgable expert on and analyst of criminal and juvenile
THE LEGAL WATCHDOG: Allen Hopper, criminal justice and drug policy director for the ACLU of Northern California, who addresses issues of civil liberties and concerns.
THE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Michael Montgomery, reporter for KQED News and public safety reporter for California Watch, and one of the best criminal justice reporters I know, period.
THE ACADEMIC: Barry Krisberg - Director of Research and Policy, for the Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at UC Berkeley’s School of Law—a brilliant, no-nonsense man who knows all, sees all on these issues.
Michael Krasny hosts very ably.
It’s a great discussion. And you’ll feel much smarter and far better informed after listening in, I promise.
Here’s a link to the full series thus far.