The School-to-Prison Pipeline (STPP) is a systematic oppression machine, particularly for black and brown people. By definition, “the increasing patterns of contact students have with the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems as a result of the recent practices implemented by educational institutions specifically zero tolerance policies and the use of police in schools” (American Psychological Association Task Force on Zero Tolerance, 2008; Fenning, 2012). This “pipeline” is resultant of neglect by public institutions to properly address students who might need extra educational or social assistance, or cannot do so because of staffing shortages or statutory mandates. Consequently, many black adolescents, primarily young men, who are expelled from public schools, end up incarcerated by the juvenile justice system (Alexander, 2011) because they have limited options.
Research suggests that there are three primary reasons for this trend in disproportionality: institutional bias, teacher bias, and cultural mismatch (Skiba, 2002, Fenning 2007, Noguera 2010, Monroe, 2005). The population of system-involved youth has been a long-standing social justice issue at the federal and state level (Annamma, 2014; Snapp, Hoenig, Fields, & Russell, 2015). Students of color are especially impacted by the punitive discipline policies, procedures, and practices that contribute to the disproportionate “pushing out” from schools and increasing the likelihood of contact with the criminal justice system.
The STPP is a social problem and a civil rights issue. As a result, the California NAACP at its 2017 state convention passed a resolution that I authored and was supported by Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, Education Chair. This resolution acknowledges these issues and problems while providing recommendations to benefit the incarcerated, young people to leave the system, reduce recidivism, and become productive citizens. Please share it widely.
RESOLUTION: THE JUVENILLE JUSTICE SYSTEM
WHERE AS the juvenile justice system as designed to “fix” the delinquent youth in society; and
WHERE AS the juvenile justice system is overly concerned with meeting state guidelines to secure funding; and
WHERE AS the juvenile justice system maintains a disproportionate amount of dollars for upper and mid management instead of reallocating those funds for services needed by the incarcerated youth; and
WHERE AS, the NAACP recognizes that the emphasis in the juvenile justice system must be focused on providing resources and opportunities for incarcerated youth; and
WHERE AS, the NAACP understands the urgency of effectively and efficiently rehabilitating incarcerated youth; and
WHERE AS, the NAACP is committed to finding a productive means to give all children equity in education and life by providing them with what they need to succeed rather than simply getting the same thing as everyone.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the NAACP will strongly advocate for immediate and overarching improvements to the existing juvenile justice system
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP believes that the purpose of the juvenile justice system is to provide support and resources to rehabilitate incarcerated youth to become critical thinking, democratic citizens of American society that are motived to never return to that hall.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP recognizes the need for mentoring programs that focus on effective communication skills, manhood/womanhood training, and positive decision making skills.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP challenges the current juvenile justice system to mandate the successful completion of high school equivalency or General Education Degree (GED) while in incarcerated in the juvenile justice system.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP strongly advocates for the development of online college education programs in all juvenile facilities. In conjunction with neighboring, local universities, the juvenile justice system will provide programs designed for incarnated youth to earn their Associate degrees while in the juvenile justice system.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP recommends the need for each incarcerated youth to have access to learn a trade in the juvenile facility. This experience will allow them the opportunity to gain employment once they return to mainstream society.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP will urge all of its Units to work to support all students in the juvenile justice system throughout the nation to educate them to their highest potential.