Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline, Second Edition
Edited By Anthony J. Nocella II, Priya Parmar and David Stovall
Chapter Five: Targets for Arrest
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Some say that we have created a system that funnels poor children of color into the juvenile and, more disturbingly, criminal justice systems from the day they are born (Children’s Defense Fund, 2007). Others say that from these children’s first day of school, the education system is looking for ways to push them out of the classroom. In 2009, as the country fell into its most recent economic recession, states slashed funding for K through 12 and higher education, but thirty-three states increased funding for prisons. Over the past twenty years, state spending for prisons has grown to six times the rate of state spending for higher education (NAACP, 2011). All of these realities add up to the fact that in this country putting people in prison is a higher priority than keeping children in school. Since our priority seems to be to fill jails and prisons and not classrooms, many say that we have created what is called either the “cradle to prison” or “school to prison” pipeline. This simply means that children, specifically children of color, are being pushed into the criminal justice system directly from the educational system.
A generation ago it was unheard of for a child to be arrested at school; now, however, in some schools it is a weekly and sometimes daily occurrence. For the most part these arrests are for non-violent offenses such as “disruptive conduct” or “disturbance of the peace” (Advancement Project, 2005, p. 18)...