Argument to Take Cops out of Schools to Prevent the Path from Student to Convict –
This week, video footage of a police officer slamming a female student out of her chair and dragging her across a classroom in a South Carolina high school shocked the nation. The officer has been put on leave, and the FBI is investigating the incident.
In a Washington Post article, author Jim St. Germain who works in the juvenile justice system in New York City and runs a non-profit mentoring program for at-risk youth shared his concern and opinion on what he feels is “the school-to-prison pipeline” which has our prisons overflowing. His views were opposed by Lucretius5 who feels that:
…..”frivolous and harmless behavior, including truancy, fighting and talking back to an officer.” The vast majority of people, including kids, are capable of immediately recognizing and weighing consequences before acting to avoid confrontation and make matters worse. Unfortunately for Mr. Germain and many other kids that grow up in poverty, this seemingly natural response for so many, has escaped them, and life in an already challenging environment is made even more difficult. Fighting and talking back to an officer are not “harmless” behaviors. As an educated adult, that you are unable to recognize this is…troubling.
Finally, we have become a nation of victims. Being the victim trumps any personal responsibility, and if fact, can be quite lucrative.
Jim St. Germain’ argument to Take Cops Out of Schools
Watching the video, my heart broke — not just for this particular student but for her classmates who witnessed it and for all the students shuttled through the school system until some offense lands them in handcuffs.
Our nation’s prisons are overflowing, and huge swaths of the population have made their way directly from school into the justice system. Our prisons are filled with young black men who dropped out of school or were pushed out, left no choice than to work the streets. This path from student to convict is known colloquially as the school-to-prison pipeline. There’s no more glaring evidence of its existence than the presence of police officers in our schools, known as school resource officers. It’s a seemingly benign title but make no mistake: These are cops. And they simply have no business being there.
“Zero-tolerance” policies, which criminalize minor infractions committed by students, grew out of the zero-tolerance policy that swept the nation in the early 1970s, part of President Richard Nixon’s “law and order” push. Schools adopted their own version of the “broken windows” theory of policing, which emphasizes cracking down on small public offenses to deter more serious crimes. As part of this shift, police officers were integrated into the school system. Broken windows policing in the schools led to suspensions for infractions including talking back to teachers, truancy, horse play, uniform violations or other disobedient or uncooperative behavior. At any high school in America, this sort of behavior is part of the culture of being a teenager, black or white.
But it’s black students who are disproportionately punished for run-of-the-mill teenage behavior. Racial disparities in discipline in U.S. public schools begin as early as preschool, with black children three times more likely to be suspended, expelled and arrested than whites. Those who are suspended fall behind and are less likely to graduate on time. As one would suspect, they’re more likely to drop out and more likely to enter the juvenile justice system.
The infractions that get these kids in trouble are not the vicious, violent acts some might imagine: According to a report published by the state courts, 74 percent of arrests in New York City public schools in 2012 were for misdemeanors or civil violations. And according to the ACLU, in the 2011-2012 school year, more than 95 percent of school-based arrests were of black and Latino students. One report found that white children were more likely to be punished for objective offenses (smoking, vandalism, obscene language), while black children were most often disciplined for offenses like “being disrespectful, loitering and excessive noise.” Read the rest of this article…