Target: Delesicia Martin, Superintendent
Goal: Protect students from unnecessary entanglement in the criminal justice system.
In Jackson, Mississippi, students are being jailed for minor classroom transgressions. As the Southern Poverty Law Center notes in its report on the issue, arrests in school carry serious consequences for the students involved; incarceration increases the odds that a student will drop out of the school and the odds of their imprisonment as an adult. Moreover, the scale of the school arrest crisis is swelling to catastrophic proportions. The SPLC’s investigation of Terry High School found that arrests at school had increased 400 percent in only three years.
According to the SPLC, the superintendent continued defending arrests of students in the face of a coalition of parents pleading for the school district to change its policies. That recalcitrance also contravenes guidance from law enforcement agencies themselves. Former Attorney General Eric Holder has even said, “A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct.” The executive director of the Henley-Young Juvenile Detention Center in Jackson Mississippi was even the first to sign a letter asking the district to change its policies on involvement of law enforcement officials in school discipline.
Add your voice to those of parents and students in Jackson, Mississippi. Demand that Superintendent Delesicia Martin help schools in his district end the harmful practice of referring students to law enforcement for minor disciplinary issues.
Dear Superintendent Martin,
In your district, students are jailed for minor classroom violations. Think Progress notes that such arrests purchase temporary order at the cost of long term consequences for children. Arrests in school push students into the “school-to-prison pipeline, which funnels students out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system.” According to the SPLC, that early introduction to the criminal justice system increases the odds that a student will drop out of the school and the odds of their imprisonment as an adult.
Please recognize that the short term disciplinary benefits of student arrests do not justify the serious consequences suffered by students entangled in the criminal justice system. Maintaining order in school can be difficult, but it is the responsibility of teachers and administrators. As former Attorney General Eric Holder cogently stated, “A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct.”
Encourage educators in your district to live up to, not abdicate, their disciplinary responsibilities. Reform district policy to protect students from entanglement in the criminal justice system.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: News All The World