VIRGINIA TOPS ALL states in referring students from school to law enforcement — a dubious distinction that should be cause for concern. Right now there’s a growing recognition that our state’s approach to juvenile justice has to change.
Archives for 2015
After two decades of researching mass incarceration — and advocating for its demise — I decided in 2005 to take more direct action and accepted a job running corrections departments, first in Washington, D.C., then in New York City. It was a rude awakening.
When video surfaced of a South Carolina school security officer yanking a high-school student from her desk because she had allegedly disobeyed orders to put her cellphone away, observers howled. Although the white officer, Ben Fields, was fired, many blamed the girl — an African American teenager — for not complying with her teacher. The incident was one of thousands that have played out across the country in which reported misconduct by Black girls at school prompted a seemingly disproportionate — and often violent — response by school and local authorities.
On one wall inside the ART 180 studio, hand-drawn signs called for unity, fairness over prejudice, and education not incarceration.
The artwork was part of the Performing Statistics exhibit, a project that connects incarcerated teens with artists, designers, educators and advocates to change the juvenile justice system. It also provided the backdrop for a town hall held Thursday night to discuss ways to better the system.
Efforts to reform the juvenile justice system in Kansas got a boost Tuesday with the launch of a grassroots campaign that among other things seeks to limit out-of-home confinement for certain youth offenders.
Kansans United for Youth Justice released a report this week outlining problems and proposing reforms. The coalition aims to end the practice of sending low- and moderate-risk youths to prison or other outside confinement. It also wants to shift funding away from incarceration and to local intensive rehabilitation programs that it says research has shown are more effective.