How Are Police On Campus Connected to the School to Prison Pipeline?
The school to prison pipeline addresses school polices and procedures that drive many of nation’s school children into a pathway that begins in school and ends in the criminal justice system. Police on campus only increases the chance of incarceration. Behavior that once led to the principal ‘s office and detention, now often leads to suspension, expulsion, and/or arrest. Having police on campus makes these harsh realities happen much quicker. Zero tolerance policy mandates harsh punishment for even minor misbehaving in schools. Harsh school discipline policies also disproportionately impact students of color, students with disabilities, and students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.
Schools with more police tend to have higher arrest and suspension rates contributing to the school to prison pipeline. Some schools receive federal grants to hire police officers which increases arrest rates of children. With police on campus school disciplinary often escalates into arrests. Studies also show that when police are on campus children are less likely to graduate high school. Most studies showed that increase police presence, the use of aggressive search tactics, and violence outside of school can hurt student’s academic performance, particularly for minority students. There have also been instances of police officers committing violence against students, incidences that make students feel unsafe around school police officers.
Children often get funneled out of public school and into the criminal justice system as a result of police on campus. Student Resource Officers in schools lead to students being criminalized for behavior that should be handled inside the school. Children should be educated not incarcerated. Students being pushed into the pipeline find themselves in detention facilities many of which provide few, if any, education services. Though many students are propelled down the pipeline from school to jail it is difficult for them to make the journey in reverse. Putting police in school worsens the school to prison pipeline by criminalizing student behavior that could otherwise be handled by school discipline.
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