Calling all cities: commit to ending the cradle-to-prison pipeline

Seattle’s City Council recently passed a resolution that endorses the goal of zero-percent detention of youth and calls for policies to end the cradle-to-prison pipeline. It’s a good first step; when we already recognize the problem, crystallizing a goal can help us identify and rally around specific solutions. And as the Advancement Project explains, that problem is a crisis that deserves greater attention:

“Across the country, school systems are shutting the doors of academic opportunity on students and funneling them into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The combination of overly harsh school policies and an increased role of law enforcement in schools has created a “school-to-prison pipeline,” in which punitive measures such as suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests are increasingly used to deal with student misbehavior, and huge numbers of youth are pushed out of school and into prisons and jails. In many communities, this transforms schools from places of learning to dangerous gateways into juvenile court. This is more than an education crisis; it is a racial justice crisis, because the students pushed out through harsh discipline are disproportionately students of color.”

All cities should follow suit while stakeholders could leverage the moment to launch or renew their campaigns on the necessary policy changes.

For more information about the Seattle organizing efforts, see: “Anti-Racist Organizers Win as Seattle Council Votes to End Youth Incarceration,” Yes! Magazine. For background on the cradle-to-prison pipeline, numerous resources are available, including the following: “What Is The School-To-Prison Pipeline?” ACLU; “Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track,” Advancement Project; “Cradle To Prison Pipeline Campaign,” Childrens Defense Fund; “Church Partnerships Working to Stop School-to-Prison Pipeline,” Sojourners.