Educate and Growth in Replace of Incarceration: Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline

Educate and Growth in Replace of Incarceration: Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline

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Sumera Alam started this petition to Department of Justice

The adolescent brain differs from the adult brain in ways that increase the likelihood of risky and reckless behavior as stated in the “21 principles for the 21st century prosecutor” from the Brennan Center for Justice. The criminal justice system must recognize that some degree of delinquent behavior is normative for youth due to their neurological development resulting in an inclination toward risk-taking and impulsive behaviors. The article also mentions how prosecutors have enormous power over treatment of youth in the justice system. They influence decisions about whether to bring charges, what charges to bring, whether to transfer a child to the adult system, and whether to ask that a child be incarcerated. Youth are being held in prisons rather than being in school to uphold the school to prison pipeline policy. We are living in an era that criminalizes our students for being… youth and exploring their identity. For most students, the pipeline begins with inadequate resources in public schools. The American Civil Liberties Union, “School to prison pipeline” article indicate the overcrowded classrooms, a lack of qualified teachers, and insufficient funding for "extras" such as counselors, special education services, and even textbooks, lock students into second-rate educational environments increase rate of students convicted of crimes. This failure to meet educational needs also increases disengagement and dropouts, increasing the risk of later court involvement. Schools may encourage dropouts in response to pressures from test-based accountability regimes such as the No Child Left Behind Act, which create incentives to push out low-performing students to boost overall test scores. The “Out of school suspension and expulsion” article by the American Academy of Pediatrics state that overly harsh disciplinary policies push students down the pipeline and into the juvenile justice system. Students of color are far more likely than their white peers to be suspended, expelled, or arrested for the same kind of conduct at school. Students pushed along the pipeline find themselves in juvenile detention facilities.

THIS MUST STOP. WE NEED CHANGE.

To the first point, we need improve education and child welfare outcomes, address complex mental health and addiction problems of young people, and provide a path out of poverty for all youth. We need a program that is alternative approaches to suspension and expulsion. We needs to provide counseling and support services to help students address and modify challenging behaviors by giving them opportunities to learn from their mistakes and focus on personal development.  “School to prison pipeline can be dismantled using alternative discipline strategies”, an article written by Cheek and Bucchio mention how schools should use more positive-based strategies. Just as math, science, English, and gym are imperative to student learning so is mental health. This is a fair and reformative action that calls for an addition of mandatory mental health education in all public schools for students convicted of crimes in replace of incarceration. The effectiveness of this program emphasizes the program will cover the development of essential life skills such as effective communication, goal setting, decision making and issues surrounding sexuality and healthy relationships. It cost more to put children in prison, so why not keep them out? Why not use that money to fund our education system for mental health awareness programs that will be cost efficient? The program can expand to reduce risks and develop competencies in under-served and neglected students that will prevent, and reduce the rate of, violent delinquent behavior. It will provide counseling and support services to help students address and modify challenging behaviors by giving them opportunities to learn from their mistakes and focus on personal development in a school setting. The program can have the ability to create a shift from a punitive learning environment to one that is warm and welcoming for all students.

Authors of “The rich get richer and the poor get prison: Ideology, Class and Criminal Justice” Reiman and Leighton, talk about how the system must institute policies that make good on its claim to protect society and to do justice. These book mention how we continue to punish youth by depriving them of their liberty. We must prepare youth for the life they have ahead of them. Anything less that this is a violation of the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment guarantee against “cruel and unusual punishment”. The increase in the arrest rates for girls and young juvenile offenders has changed the composition of violent offenders entering the juvenile justice system. As Article 26 of the United Nations’(UN) 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to education,” and most nations are signatories to this Declaration. The concept of education as a fundamental legal right is further supported by the UN’s 1959 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the seventh principle of which states, “The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages.”

YOUTH HAVE A RIGHT TO THEIR EDUCATION NOT TO CRIMINALIZATION.

I am offering an alternative moral vision of a justice system that operates in improving the overall environment of public-school programs in accordance with our constitutional values and human rights. This vision includes improving school climate, especially for schools that have poor attendance and poor academic performance. The inclusion of mental health programs can make drastic changes within schools and help to dismantle the pipeline. Congress must act now to reform this program by focusing on anti-school to prison pipeline tactics and overall reform juvenile delinquency prevention programs. Without true reform, the juvenile justice system will not be able to overcome the challenges it will face in the coming years when the number of juveniles is expected to increase by 18 percent between 2000 and 2030 (Opportunities for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reform, 2019). I must also mention the racial disparity of the school-to-prison pipeline reveals a deeper-seated issue, systematic racism within American schools. America’s historic racial narrative has transformed into implicit bias, which is one of the main causes of the pipeline and helps to explain the disproportionate rate of students of color incarcerated. We must end discriminatory school discipline. Schools have been a prominent cornerstone for youth’s overall development and the learning environment for them to become contributing members of society. However, far too many students have been robbed of their right to be comprehensively educated due to the school-to-prison pipeline. We dim the light for students and the nation’s future when we continue to push problem students out of schools and funnel them into the juvenile/criminal justice system, thereby feeding the belly of mass incarceration. The inclusion of mental health programs as an alternative to students charged with or accused of a crime can be the stepping stone to advance safety and fairness for all students.

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