Justice Department Moves to Shut Off the “School-to-Prison Pipeline”

According to The Washington Post, the U.S. Justice Department has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Meridian and Lauderdale County, Mississippi, charging that local officials operate what has become known as a “school-to-prison pipeline”—sort of the evil twin to school-to-career programs, I guess—in which public school students accused of disciplinary violations are subject to arrest and incarceration—in this case, 80 miles away, and without the need to worry over any of those pesky rules concerning probable cause or legal representation.

According to the Post, students can be incarcerated for “dress code infractions such as wearing the wrong color socks or undershirt, or for having shirts untucked; tardies; flatulence in class; using vulgar language; yelling at teachers; and going to the bathroom or leaving the classroom without permission.”

Left unstated is the key characteristic that nearly all of these violators have in common: 86% of the district’s 6,000 students are black, and from 2006 through the first half of the 2009-2010 school year, all the students referred to law enforcement or expelled were black and 96% of those suspended were black.

You can read more about this issue here.

Clark County Nevada Correctional Education Improves Economy and Public Safety, Budget Is Cut Anyway

Excellent article by Paul Takahashi in the Las Vegas Sun over the weekend about an adult education and vocational training program based at the High Desert State Prison in Nevada, about 40 miles northwest of Las Vegas. According to the Sun, more than 300 inmates are served through this program, operated by the Clark County School District through a partnership with the Nevada Department of Corrections.

About 75% of inmates who receive their GED, high school diploma or a vocational certificate through this program never return to prison. By contrast, the overall recidivism rate for inmates 18 to 20 years old is about 50%.

Unfortunately, funding for adult education and vocational programs at prisons across the state has been dramatically reduced in recent years. Clark County has cut the budget for this program by 28%.

(Corrected on 3/14: forgot to add a link to the original story!)