Monday, June 11, 2007

School to Prison Pipeline

The U.S schools system is becoming a fast track to prison. Can ours be fra behind? What happens in the U.S. often insidiously finds it's way into our system at some point. It's all a reaction to the fear that has been pervading our atmosphers since 9/11. Everything is a risk, everyone is suspect. And the fist of punishment precedes the hand of help.

But this is beyond the pale - student behavior that in my time would have resulted in a trip to the principal's office is now resulting in a trip to the police station.

Exhibit A.: a 6-year-old girl in Florida who was handcuffed by the police and taken off to the county jail after she threw a tantrum in her kindergarten class.

Exhibit B: Police in Brooklyn recently arrested more than 30 young people, ages 13 to 22, as they walked toward a subway station, on their way to a wake for a teenage friend who had been murdered. No evidence of misbehaviour, no drugs or weapons. They were accused of gathering unlawfully and of disorderly conduct.

Exhibit C: Police in Baltimore handcuffed a 7-year-old boy and took him into custody for riding a dirt bike on the sidewalk.

Exhibit D: a middle school student in Palm Beach County who was caught throwing rocks at a soda can was arrested and charged with a felony - hurling a "deadly missile."

Exhibit E: a 14-year-old high school freshman in Paris, Tex. was arrested for shoving a hall monitor, convicted of "assault on a public servant" and sentenced to 7 year prison term.

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