Friday, November 10, 2006

school-to-prison pipeline

the american society of criminology meetings had some provocative film sessions last week, making good use of the l.a. convention center theater. i sat in on a series of short films and trailers, thinking they might be good for classroom use. unfortunately, i had to leave early -- it was pretty intense to see back-to-back-to-back docs on prison rape, kids in cages, and other atrocities.

one film that looks terrific, though, is book 'em: undereducated, overincarcerated by the three-minute clip addresses a phenomenon known as the school-to-prison pipeline. i just heard the term this summer, at a racial disparities conference in minneapolis. i learned that youth of color now make up about 80% of the juveniles appearing in hennepin county court, with 25% of those cases referred from schools. this doesn't include truancy violations, either. in just the 2003-2004 school year, minneapolis schools referred 2,656 cases to the juvenile justice system. 2,311 of these involved misdemeanors, about half for disorderly conduct.

in minneapolis, as elsewhere, the juvenile justice system is meting out a lot of school discipline these days. the naacp legal defense fund has compiled a useful report on the subject, but i haven't seen much strong empirical work on the subject in the mainstream journals. it might make for a terrific dissertation ...

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