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Articles tagged with: CFYJ Interns

The Realities of the School to Prison Pipeline

Friday, 31 July 2015 Posted in 2015, CFYJ Updates

By Mette Huberts, CFYJ Fellow

As summer begins to wrap-up and the thoughts of another school year creep back into our minds, this week the CFYJ fellows focused on a different type of school experience at our last Summer Institute Event. Kaitlin Banner, a staff attorney in the Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track program at the Advancement Project, was kind enough to share her experience and knowledge on the school-to-prison-pipeline with us. She not only explained the causes and consequences of policies that form the pipeline, but also talked openly about how we must go about reforming the issue.
The “school-to-prison-pipeline” is a buzz term used to emphasize how our education systems are indirectly pushing kids out of school and on a pathway to prison. Due to the combination of an excess of strict zero-tolerance policy laws and vague laws that lead to high disparity rates, students are being arrested for “crimes” such as scribbling on desks and hugging a friend. Over 3 million students each year receive an out-of-school suspension as punishment for such acts, with black children having a one in six chance of being suspended at least once. This overuse of out of school suspensions only exacerbates the problem, forcing kids to fall behind in school and become disengaged. One way to combat this overuse of suspension and expulsion, Banner informed us, is to create a longer, more intensive due process for students facing such punishments. This longer process is a heavier burden on the schools and therefore discourages them from immediately turning to suspension and expulsion where it may not be necessary. 
In addition, Banner explained that the more we allow our schools to feel like prisons, the more inclined students will be to act like criminals. Instead of implementing surveillance cameras, armed guards, and metal detectors, schools need to start talking to kids about their actions in a developmentally appropriate manor. Referring to things such as speaking back to a teacher as “disorderly conduct” and swiping headphones as “theft” only tells the child that they are a criminal rather than simply a teenager acting out. While of course these actions cannot be condoned, they must be addressed with consideration of age and situational factors. At the Advancement Project, one of the solutions Banner uses to fight the pipeline is to implement restorative justice practices in schools, encouraging a focus on adult to student and peer to peer relationships instead of punishment. This has proven much more successful than the harsh punishment on small acts of wrongdoing that schools have previously (and often still do) used. 
By identifying both the causes and consequences of the school-to-prison-pipeline, Banner helped us better understand the faults of the system and the pressing need for change. Through providing ideas and tactics of reform she inspired and encouraged us to be more consistently aware of the realities of the school-to-prison-pipeline and to call for reform. There are millions of lives at stake here, millions of children being unjustly treated and sent down the wrong path from their school, a place many of us instinctively deem safe. It is up to us to recognize and work to end the pipeline and to refocus our schools on education instead of punishment.  

We Are Excited to Introduce CFYJ's 2015 Summer Interns

Samantha Goodman Monday, 22 June 2015 Posted in 2015, CFYJ Updates

Intern pic

From left: Samantha Goodman, Nicholas Bookout, Mette Huberts

This summer, Samantha Goodman will be serving as the Campaign’s Public Interest Communications Intern. Hailing from Pittsburgh, Samantha attends Emory University, where she is studying Sociology and French. She coaches soccer and basketball to at-risk youth at the Boys & Girls Club. It was these children’s stories that sparked Sam’s interest in the youth justice reform movement. For fun, she enjoys golf, sailing in Maine, trying new restaurants, travelling, and cheering for Pittsburgh sports teams.

Nicholas Bookout will be conducting Juvenile Justice Policy Research for the Campaign. He is joining us this summer from Harvard College, where he is concentrating in Social Studies. Originally from Gulf Breeze, Florida, Nick’s interest in racial inequality, urban America and mass incarceration lead him to CFYJ. In his spare time, Nick plays basketball, hangs out with his Labs Maizee and Lulu, follows UMich Athletics, and likes Scrabble and Game of Thrones.

Mette Huberts will be working on CFYJ’s State Campaign efforts. Mette grew up in San Francisco, but now attends Boston College, where she is studying Economics and International Studies with a concentration in Ethics and Social Justice. For the past year, Mette has volunteered at the Suffolk County House of Correction in Boston, tutoring and working with inmates. Her experiences there fueled her interest in the criminal justice system and she joins CFYJ looking to foster change. When she has the chance, Mette likes to run, bake, waterski, travel, and hike.

Cookhorne v. Fischer Settlement Provides Beneficial Reforms for Youth in Solitary Confinement

Courtney Thomas, Northeastern University School of Law: CFYJ Intern Tuesday, 28 October 2014 Posted in 2014, Federal Update

Prisoner’s Legal Services of New York (PLS) reached a landmark settlement with the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) in the case of Cookhorne v. Fischer which will result in significant and positive changes regarding the use of solitary confinement as a disciplinary sanction for 16 and 17 year old inmates in DOCCS custody.

The settlement agreement contains several amendments to DOCCS policies and prohibits solitary confinement of youth for disciplinary purposes by limiting the maximum hours of confinement per day. The agreement mandates that a youth may be confined for no more than 18 hours a day, five days per week, and no more than 22 hours the other two days of the week. It further establishes a minimum number of hours for programming and recreation during this out-of-cell time. The settlement agreement also requires that regulations be amended to state that age is a mitigating factor in disciplinary proceedings where a youth has been accused of misconduct and requires a written statement of how the age affected the disposition.

New Report: US Prison Populations Increase, Number of Youth in Prisons Declines

Courtney Thomas : CFYJ Intern Monday, 22 September 2014 Posted in 2014, Research & Policy

A recent report released by the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), reveals that the U.S. prison population has increased for the first time since 2009. The report, “Prisoners in 2013” notes that state and federal prisons held approximately 1,574,700 prisoners on December 31, 2013, an increase of about 4,300 prisoners from year-end 2012.

This reversal in a three year trend of declining prison population rates is due to an increase in 2013 of 6,300 inmates in the state prison population. This is a significant change from a similar BJS report published about two years ago, “Prisoners in 2011,” which displayed a decline of 21,614 state prisoners at year-end 2011.

Meet CFYJ's 2014 Fall Interns

Samantha Phillips Friday, 05 September 2014 Posted in 2014, Voices

From left to right: Samantha Phillips, Courtney Thomas, Dayana Morales Gomez, Reneeta Polson
The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is pleased to introduce our 2014 Fall Interns.