“The Yell County Juvenile Detention Center uses this restraint mechanism called the “wrap system”. Some juvenile detainees call it “torture”. Now, the Arkansas Department of Human Services has sent a cease and desist letter to Yell County officials asking them to stop using the device.”(Source: Fox 16 News)
Category: Juvenile Justice
Read more information here.
Yesterday, GSA Network and Crossroads Collaborative released a set of reports finding that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, gender nonconforming youth, and youth of color not only face bullying and harassment from peers, but also harsh and disparate discipline from school staff, relatively higher levels of policing and surveillance, and blame for their own victimization.
To accompany the reports, Advancement Project, a national civil rights organization, and GSA Network also released a set of policy recommendations based on the research for school staff, policy makers, and young people advocating for change.
Download the reports:
- Gender Nonconforming Youth: Discipline Disparities, School Push-Out, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline
- LGBTQ Youth of Color: Discipline Disparities, School Push-Out, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline
- School Discipline Disparities Recommendations
Join them for a tweetchat on #LGBTpushout on Thursday 10/9 at 3pm PST/6pm to discuss these findings as part of the National Week of Action against School Pushout!
Much of the discussion about the school to prison pipeline focuses on the plight of young men of color (particularly black boys). This is understandable given the dire statistics that illustrate how susceptible they are to being pushed out of school into future incarceration. The most often cited statistic is that 1 out of 3 black boys born in 2001 is likely to spend part of his life in prison.
However young women are also impacted by the school to prison pipeline. Their trajectory is different. Incarcerated girls are often victims of sexual and physical abuse in their early lives, and this is often neither recognized nor identified by school officials or other adults.
Sociologist Beth Richie has made the case that a key to understanding and responding to women as offenders is understanding their status as crime victims. Laurie Schaffner (2007) extends this argument by suggesting that “young women adjudicated delinquent in juvenile court report suffering inordinate amounts of emotional, physical, and sexual trauma in early childhood and adolescence.” She contends that “a disproportionate number of girls come into the juvenile justice system with family histories of physical and sexual violence and emotional neglect” (p.1229).
Many of the problems that young women face that relate to school failure and potential future incarceration stem from physical and sexual abuse. This has led some to characterize the experience of interpersonal violence as a “Girl Prison Pipeline.” In order to interrupt the girl prison pipeline then, particular attention must be paid to the physical and sexual abuse histories of young women.
Over the last few years, black girls in particular have been increasingly subjected to harsh disciplinary policies that push them out of school. A new report, Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity, released a couple of weeks ago suggests that:
“In the 2011-12 school year, 12 percent of all African American female pre-K-12 students were suspended from school, six times the rate of white girls and more than any other group of girls and several groups of boys – despite research showing that African American children do not misbehave more frequently than their peers.”
Girls of color and particularly black girls are increasingly pushed out of school and criminalized. But this story is not a new one. You can read about a young woman named Dorothy Young’s story here, for example. Also watch this video about Kiera Wilmot’s more recent incident:
Further Reading and Resources
Disciplining Violence by Connie Wun
Girls in the System by Rachel Marie-Crane Williams
Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)
Race, Gender and the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Expanding Our Discussion to Include Black Girls by Monique Morris (2012)
School to Prison Pipeline for Girls: The Role of Physical and Sexual Abuse by Sandra B. Simkins, Amy E. Hirsch, Erin McNamara Horvat, and Marjorie B. Moss
 Research on Women and Girls in the Justice System: Plenary Papers of the 1999 Conference on Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation – Enhancing Policy and Practice through Research, Volume 3. (September 2000). Office of Justice Programs. NCJ 180973.
 Schaffner, Laurie. 2007. Violence Against Girls Provokes Girls’ Violence: From Private Injury to Public Harm. Violence against Women, volume 13 no. 12. Pp.1229-1248.
Tomorrow kicks of the 5th annual National Week of Action Against School Pushout. This year, my organization will join with youth, parents, teachers and community members in over 40 cities to resist school pushout and policing. Project NIA released a short paper this morning documenting the gains and challenges in the fight to end Chicago’s school to prison pipeline. I hope that those interested in these issues will read the paper authored by my friend, Dr. Michelle VanNatta.
I thought that I would use the occasion of the week of action to offer an introduction to the school-to-prison pipeline for those who might be new to the concept. I’ll also provide some resources for those interested in further study.
Defining the School-to-Prison Pipeline (STPP)
In an article that we wrote earlier this year, Erica Meiners and I defined the STPP in this way:
“Less a pipeline than a nexus or a swamp, the STPP is generally used to refer to interlocking sets of structural and individual relationships in which youth, primarily of color, are funneled from schools and neighborhoods into under- or unemployment and prisons.
While the US public education system has historically diverted non-white communities toward under-education, non-living wage work, participation in a permanent war economy, and/or incarceration, the development of the world’s largest prison nation over the last three decades has strengthened policy, practice, and ideological linkages between schools and prisons. Non-white, non-heterosexual, and/or non-gender conforming students are targeted for surveillance, suspended and expelled at higher rates, and are much more likely to be charged, convicted, and removed from their homes, or otherwise to receive longer sentences.”
Facts and Figures
To help provide some context for the scope and impact(s) of harsh school disciplinary policies, Project NIA created a short quiz to test your knowledge. Thanks to @cronehead and @MuffMacGuff who digitized this quiz. How do you fare?
Critique of the STPP Concept
Dr. Damien Sojoyner (2013) has challenged the concept of the school to prison pipeline. The abstract of his paper titled “Black Radicals Make for Bad Citizens: Undoing the Myth of the School to Prison Pipeline (PDF) summarizes his main argument:
“Over the past ten years, the analytic formation of the school to prison pipeline has come to dominate the lexicon and general common sense with respect to the relationship between schools and prisons in the United States. The concept and theorization that undergirds its meaning and function do not address the root causes that are central to complex dynamics between public education and prisons. This paper argues that in place of the articulation of the school to prison pipeline, what is needed is a nuanced and historicized understanding of the racialized politics pertaining to the centrality of education to Black liberation struggles. The result of such work indicates that the enclosure of public education foregrounds the expansion of the prison system and consequently, schools are not a training ground for prisons, but are the key site at which technologies of control that govern Black oppression are deemed normal and necessary.”
Others have offered other critiques of the STPP concept pointing out, for example, that we need think of the process of educational and societal marginalization as one that in fact begins from the cradle or even the womb.
Activism and Advocacy
The past decade has found increasing numbers of policy makers, advocates, academics, educators, parents, students, and organizers focusing explicitly on the relationships between education and imprisonment. A lot of organizing has happened around the issue of school pushout. The Dignity in Schools Campaign (organizers of the National Week of Action) brings together over 75 organizations across the country who are working to transform school discipline policies.
Just this week, advocates and organizers in California presided over Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of a bill to limit “school administrators’ use of an offense called “willful defiance” to suspend students in California schools.” This was the result of a long-term organizing campaign. Earlier, I referenced our newly released paper that documents some of the gains made by Chicago and Illinois organizers in the fight to interrupt the STPP.
Here are some organizations and projects advocating and organizing to end the STPP.
Teaching Youth About STPP: Curriculum Resources
We at Project NIA have developed several resources that can be used by educators and organizers to discuss the STPP with young people in particular. These resources have also been used by many people to lead discussions with adults as well. Others have also developed useful tools for teaching about the STPP.
Curriculum: Suspension Stories
Curriculum: NYCLU School-to-Prison Pipeline Workshop
Comic: School to Prison Pipeline by Rachel Marie-Crane Williams
One page comic with discussion questions: Sent Down the Drain
Find many other audio, video, etc… resources at Suspension Stories
Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline Edited by Bahena, Cooc, Currie-Rubin, Kuttner and Ng (2012)
From Education to Incarceration: Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline Edited by Nocella, Parmar and Stovall (2014)
Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys by Victor Rios (2011)
Over the course of this next week, I will be posting information about the specific components that make up the STPP. Stay tuned!
One of my touchstones, the brilliant scholar-activist Barbara Ransby, tweeted something yesterday that I agree with completely.
Those who say we have no young leaders 2day reminiscent of SNCC, BPP & YLs, are not paying attention.
— Barbara Ransby (@BarbaraRansby) August 26, 2014
I write about the activism and organizing of young people in Chicago a lot. I do so because my work and purpose are focused on supporting young people to make their lives more livable. It’s been a long-term commitment. So when other adults persistently disparage and discount ‘young people these days,’ I can’t relate. The young people who I am privileged to know are some of the most talented, creative, dedicated and intelligent activists I’ve ever encountered in my now-over 25 years of organizing. This is a fact, lost on many to be sure, but true nonetheless.
Over the course of this summer, I’ve been engaged with several young people in a group called “We Charge Genocide” and I’ve paid close attention as they have taken the lead in writing a report, in creating workshops and trainings, in using social media to convey the message that oppressive policing must end, and in generously sharing their stories and talents. The source of my hope for the future is rooted in their gifts. We will win because of them.
I call out the young people of BYP 100, We Charge Genocide, Chicago Freedom School, Circles and Ciphers, Fearless Leading By the Youth, VOYCE, Chicago Students Union, Students for Health Equity, Black and Pink Chicago and many, many more that I am leaving out but are doing important work.
In just the past few weeks in Chicago, young people have spearheaded & co-organized a local National Moment of Silence vigil to commemorate the killing of Michael Brown and to stand in solidarity with the Ferguson community.
Last night, my comrade Tommy posted the following video and message on his Facebook Page:
Here is a powerful video a member of We Get Free Media, Joshua Penny Roberts, about Police Brutality. He connects the brutality that happened to a member of Kuumba Lynx outside our space this summer to a long history of it back to the most recent executions of #EricGarner, #MikeBrown, and #EzellFord at the hands of the police.
Watch and see and please share. Filmers include Tyjuan Reed and Esther Ashaye
I’m sharing the video below because it is timely.
Also, a reminder that today is the National Moment of Silence in solidarity with Michael Brown and all victims of police violence. Find details about your city here. I’ll be at the Chicago vigil at 6 pm. at Daley Plaza. Hope to see you there too.
Why I Cry
by Sharee M (Free Write Jail Arts Program)
I cry because so many thoughts
go through my mind.
I cry when I feel that I have been mistreated
I cry so that someone could come and comfort me
I cry so that things could go my way
I cry when I feel that everything’s over
I cry when I think about what I should have done
instead of doing time
I cry for a second chance
so that I could be something
I cry when I think about
when would I see my family again
I cry because I have not found myself
I cry for the family who lost a loved one
I cry for not going with my first mind, the right one
I cry because bricks surround me
I cry because I am in a box
I cry because I am not free
(Source: Big Dream I’m Chasing, Free Write Jail Arts Anthology Vol 6)
The Advancement Project is out with a good short video that updates Kiera Wilmot’s case. Kiera is a Florida high school student who was arrested and charged with two felonies for a botched science experiment. The Advancement Project video speaks to the collateral consequences of criminalizing school discipline and the school-to-prison pipeline.
They are banging on the windows…
At first, I can’t place the sound. Then I look up and I see arms waving from behind darkened windows. They must be standing on their beds straining to see us. I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me that they might see or hear us outside. This is after all mainly why we are here.
Over 200 of us (or more) are standing outside of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC). We’ve walked over 2.5 miles from Paderewski Elementary, one of fifty schools that Rahm Emanuel closed last year. As we march, there are energetic chants, waving signs, a colorful banner, cars honking, neighbors looking out of their windows and others rushing over to ask what we are all about. It doesn’t feel somber though we’re here to resist the criminalization of young people. We are joining together to kick off the National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth.
Our group is an intergenerational one – from babies and toddlers to teenagers and college-age young people to those of us in middle-age and grandparents. We are black, white, latin@, asian and a mix of all of these. We are cis-gendered and trans*. We are able-bodied and differently-abled. It’s an incredibly diverse group and this matters if we are to build a mass movement to end prisons.