“We don’t know how many students are casualties of a racist system, in which they are punished for being in their bodies, for being brown and black kids, and we’ve got to do something,” said Fatimah Salleh, mother of two former students at Durham School of the Arts (DSA) in Durham, N.C. “If we are not really aggressive about it, then it will be the way America has always deemed it to be.”
The approach to the treatment of youthful offenders has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. Systemic models that once focused on using vocational training as a means of rehabilitation have recently evolved into mental health-focused treatment programs and reentry efforts.
To become a champion of racial equity and social justice takes more effort than one might think. As a culture, we laud individuals with good character, attributing such virtue as a necessary component to ending the inequities that afflict society. We rely on our intuitive wisdom that tells us, “If you want to make a difference in this world, be a good person!”
The school-to-prison pipeline refers to the streamlining of at-risk students from schools to incarceration or related correctional-type facilities that results from punitive discipline practices and criminalizing misconduct in schools.