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Ending the School to Prison Pipeline

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/08/20/ending-school-prison-pipeline

Another issue adding to student arrests, not brought up by the author of this piece, is zero tolerance policies. Having graduated from high school more than 40 years ago, I can’t even imagine living under these standards. Expecting teenagers to never break the rules (something my fellow students and I did on a regular bases), and then having them arrested, instead of what I would call normal punishment (detention, suspension, etc.), starting the prison pipeline is appalling.


They know that within a few years unemployment is going to be so high that they are planning ahead in trying to lower the nummber of people deserving of help.

This is also why they are trying to make it so hard for those who are not people-of-means to get enough of an education to get a decent job (minimum six, preferably eight years of college and then often an extended period of working for very little as a postdoc).

Anything lower is almost guaranteed to be outsourced or offshored and turned into precarious, low paid but still highly skilled, difficult work. Where does that leave the tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of us without the prerequisite skills and education? Not working. And if we are working it will be literally for subsistence wages with a large number of unemployed people depending on each precariously situated wage earner. Plus, both government and business, absolutely starved for tax receipts will be automating or outsourcing/offshoring as much as they can and selling off as many assets as they can, even seizing them through eminent domain, in a quest to increase tax receipts and ‘ratables’ (sales and property tax generating assets within their city limits).

That means any affordable community will be in danger of being “redeveloped” out of existence at any time, people being forced to move. See Kelo v. City of New London, Conn.

The shift will end up-pushing people who have done nothing wrong other than being frugal out of cities and suburbs, and out of desirable rural communites as well. There really wont be anyplace for poor people to live that will be immune from this. The central cities especially will be strpped of their affordable housing leaving many people with nowhere to go that has public transportation, and no drivers licenses or cars to look for new housing, also they will be far away from their jobs and other family members. Schools are unlikely to be better, by then they may even be nonexistent as trade agreements are pushing all public services towards privatization. (although primary and secondary education are exempt as long as its not privatized, so each new charter school brings us closer and closer to privatization of primary basic education) See the governmental authority exclusion part of GATS.

On the other hand, each person put into prison represents around $50,000 in income to a privatized commercial prison firm. They have created an incentive to imprison the poor, while at the same time exporting the jobs that the non wealthy can do. Particularlly scary are the entitlements created for foeign firms to continue these policies which become impossibly costly to end.

They wont create jobs for our young people either as its much cheaper to staff them with guest workers, we’ll probably start doing that with police too at some point soon. That will become an entitlement and an international issue if we try to stop it. Like the situation with healthcare the compensation we would have to pay would make getting those jobs back impossibly expensive once it becomes popular. This is clearly the future that is being contemplated internationally. High wage countries are portrayed as only approriate for certain kinds of high value added work, other kinds of jobs will be farmed out to international providers of the service on a large scale. Many of these firms already exist and they tend to locate in juriddictions with low wages and low levels of regulation. We’ll come under huge pressure to lower all our regulations too if we want to recapture these jobs we will have to underbid them.

Another thing that must be mentioned is that ISDS or ISDS-like international arbitration lawsuits could be the result of large changes like decriminalizing soft drugs that reduced the numbers imrisoned, once the prisons and staffing them become an article of international trade, whether we were housing prisonrs here or in some other country. (Some European countries do this already to lower costs) Yes, imprisonment is now subject to the international trade rules, once it begins, just like other services!


Kids as young as 6 have been arrested on school property for things like assault because they might have pushed another student. There a recent video of an entire family being arrested at gun point, ordered to lie on hot pavement and cuffed with 5 cops standing around pointing guns at them. The children were aged 6 , 12 14 and 16 and were all deemed threats. The crime? The police had a report of a stolen MOTORCYCLE. The car this family in just happened to have the same plate number as the motorcycle so the cops figured that reason enough to cuff them all.

The officers were white. The family was black. You could here the kids crying , the mother screaming this is MY car and the cops simply walking around ignoring those cries.


"Black students are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested at school than white students, despite exhibiting similar behavioral patterns.


First, I would guess this claim regarding “similar behavioral patterns” is likely true…to an extent.

Second, I would guess that one important reason for the disparity between white/black arrest rates for statistically similar black/white behaviors is ‘point of arrest’ racism.

But, third, I speculate that - under closer examination - the ‘behaviors’ are dissimilar; that the dissimilarity of behavior is a matter not only of race, but of income; and that being low income is also an important factor that - combined with racism - leads to greater arrests.

For example, truancy (skipping school). Poor people miss more school than people with more money; and the percentage of poor people of color is higher than the percentage of poor white people.

The upshot? You would expect a higher percentage of more-low-income people of color to miss school at a higher rate than you would expect of more-high-income white people.

So: even if blacks and whites both skip school, poor people - white or of color - are likely arrested more for skipping school because - for economic reasons (care taking in the absence of child care or elderly health care, or because the poor get sick more, e.g.) they miss school more than whites - in particular higher income whites, for whom skipping is more a freedom than a necessity…

…as well as because of racism.