Fault Lines

The school to prison pipeline

Are increased police presence in schools and zero tolerance policies putting students on the path to prison?

The presence of police officers in schools has increased dramatically in the last 20 years, and as a result, so has the number of students receiving misdemeanor and felony charges.

Every time we have a school shooting we actually realise there was a young person in need. And they weren't in need of a police officer...

by Judith Browne Dianis, civil rights advocate

African American and Latino youth appear to bear the brunt of zero tolerance policies and out of school suspensions. 

“Unfortunately, we see too many school districts rushing to get a police officer with a gun and a badge instead of a counsellor,” says civil rights advocate Judith Browne Dianis.

“We are seeing an overreaction to childish behaviour, we are seeing racial profiling in our schools, in our hallways of young people of colour who are seen to be threats. So all these kinds of overreactions push us to have these policies and practices in schools that lead to pushing young people out, pushing them into the juvenile justice system and into the criminal justice system.”

Fault Lines correspondent Wab Kinew travelled to Texas, where being late for class can get you sent to jail, to examine the difficulties of disrupting what the US government now refers to as the “school to prison pipeline”.


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