Wednesday, September 19, 2012

From Classmate To Inmate

This sounds like a conspiracy theory. That's what I thought when I first heard about the school to prison pipeline. I thought that it might be a far fetched story filled with outlandish accusations that could not possibly be true. But, the difference between theory and reality is facts. While I was never under the impression that the system was designed for African-American's to prosper, I had not anticipated such a blatant attempt to stymie our progress.

The school to prison pipeline is a disturbing national trend in which schools in poor, urban areas are taking a zero tolerance stance when it comes to discipline. As a result children are being arrested for what were once considered minor infractions, charged, and then funneled through the juvenile or criminal justice system. These children are overwhelmingly poor, African-American, and in some cases disabled.

Last month officials in Lauderdale, Mississippi were being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for operating a school to prison pipeline. This violates the constitutional rights of students by incarcerating them for school disciplinary infractions as minor as "defiance". The agencies Civil Rights Division has threatened to file a Federal Lawsuit against the state if it did not agree to take part in meaningful negotiations within 60 days to end the violation of these students constitutional rights.
Three 9 year-old girls, and one 8 year-old boy were handcuffed and arrested at Morrell Park Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland, after allegedly being involved in a fight. They were then kept in a holding cell for 12 hours. The 4 children were charged with aggravated assault, and despite the outrage from both parents and the ACLU The Baltimore Police Department reserved the right to handcuff, any individual who has been placed under arrest regardless of age.
If this had been done years ago we would have all been arrested. Who hadn't had to defend themselves at least once in school?

In related news, The Corrections Corporation of American, the nations largest private prison company, has reached out to 48 states offering to buy and manage their penitentiaries at a lower cost, as part of a $250 million plan. The catch, the states, if interested, must agree to a 20 year contract, and the prisons must be kept at 90% capacity. So far Ohio is the only state to take advantage of the offer.
The question that we must ask ourselves is how any state could possibly guarantee a 90% incarceration rate? In order for such a guarantee to be made there would have to be a broad effort to increase the ranks of those who are incarcerated, and or insure that once released, former felons become habitual offenders. A school to prison pipeline is nothing more than a fast track to institutionalized slavery where African-Americans children are groomed to become, and remain state property for state profit. So it appears that crime really does pay, if you can sell or purchase a penitentiary.


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