YES TO COUNSELORS, NO TO COPS

RACIAL IMPACT OF EXPANDED POLICE PRESENCE IN SCHOOLS

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From the Sentencing Project:

A recent article in Colorlines expressed concern about the possible influx of additional police into schools in the wake of school shootings in Newtown. The article notes that students of color are disproportionately impacted by the presence of police in schools and the role school-based police play in creating a school-to-prison pipeline that funnels minority youth into the criminal justice system. Information compiled by The Sentencing Project also shows that adding police to schools is a counterproductive violence prevention strategy.

Youth of color are disproportionately affected by the presence of police in schools. For example, theColorlines article cites information in the Orlando Sentinel showing that black students are just 21 percent of Florida youth, but make up 46 percent of all school-related referrals to law enforcement.The majority of children arrested in Florida, according to the Sentinel, are arrested for infractions of school rules such as dress-code violations, talking back, and schoolyard fist fights. Another study in Los Angeles schools found officers primarily ticketed young students in low-income minority neighborhoods, with students as young as 7 and 8 being given court summonses.  Similar police practices in schools in Meridian, Mississippi led the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to investigate whether city and county authorities were violating minority students’ constitutional rights.

Jurisdictions in Florida, California, Mississippi, and elsewhere have come to recognize that the presence of police officers in schools does not improve student behavior, but can have long lasting adverse consequences for youth. Citing a senior policy analyst with the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance,Colorlines reports that “in this post-Newtown climate, when the impulse is to send even more police officers to schools, juvenile justice and school safety advocates ‘are working very hard to make sure that the response to Newtown doesn’t create another 10 to 20 years of consequences.”

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