Meridian Struggles with School-to-Prison Allegations

This story was produced in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity

Lionel Townsend will turn 14 in September and a few months after that he will be able to return to school, ending a year of exile. Lionel admits he got into fights multiple times at Magnolia Middle School. When he was charged with vandalizing a school bus security camera, he was booted from school. He fought again in a community day program. The county Youth Court eventually put him on probation and an order to stay at home with an ankle monitor.

NAACP Blasts Mace in Birmingham Schools

The NAACP launched an online petition this week, inviting people to lend their names to a campaign to end the use of pepper spray on students in Birmingham, Al. public schools. “As long as we continue to treat students like criminals, they will grow up to become criminals,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, in a written statement. The NAACP argues that Mace and pepper spray may be legitimate parts of an adult or crowd policing strategy, but are not acceptable for use on school children. Birmingham’s public school population is overwhelmingly African-American.

One Kid’s View of Corporate Irresponsibility

Urban Outfitters Inc. owns the popular indie stores Anthropologie, Free People, and Urban Outfitters. The company runs roughly 2,000 of these stores around the globe, employs thousands of people and has received several awards for efforts to preserve history through their products. Who could have a problem with such a great corporation? Well, many people could, and many people do. Urban Outfitters managed to upset the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, LGBT advocacy groups and women advocacy groups.

Trayvon Martin Rally Atlanta March 26 2012

Students, Community Members Gather in Atlanta to Protest Trayvon Martin Shooting

ATLANTA — Hundreds of Trayvon Martin supporters gathered to chants of “I am Trayvon” in Downtown Atlanta on Monday, exactly one month after the Florida teen was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in an Orlando suburb. Bands of student demonstrators, mainly organized by student groups from nearby universities, joined activists, community members and a long list of organizers on the steps of the state capital to call for the arrest of George Zimmerman – the self-appointed neighborhood watch captain who claimed to have shot the 17-year-old in self-defense. “It’s a general issue of justice,” said Richard Hunter, 42, who attended the rally with his nine-year-old son, Matt. “I think we’ve seen that when we get involved things can change,” Hunter said about the importance of getting young people involved in justice issues. “A lot of people sit back and act like nothing is going to happen instead of showing up.

April 29, 2011

Read up:

Newt Gingrich Among Conservatives Backing NAACP Prison Reform Report:
http://bit.ly/NAACPreports

Want to Ask the Nation a Couple of Questions?:
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Georgia Foster Kids’ Psych Drug Use Under Review:
http://bit.ly/fostermeds

Host: Ryan Schill
Multimedia: Clay Duda

Four Teens Charged with Murder in Beating Death

An 18-year-old boy was killed at a house party in Douglasville, Ga Saturday night, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Four other teenagers, ages 18-19, were arrested for the death of Bobby Tillman. They have been charged with murder. More than 70 kids turned up at what was supposed to be a small house party. After parents ended the party a fight broke out outside the home between two girls.

Cop punches teen jaywalker

Across the nation people are talking about this video of a police officer punching a teenage girl in the face during an altercation in Seattle. What lead to this moment, captured by a witness with a cell phone, may well be a case study in police reaction and teenage judgment.  It started when Officer Ian Walsh spotted four girls jaywalking.  He asked them to step over to his patrol car.  According to police officials, the girls were “verbally antagonistic. “

The officer was alone on the street.  One of the teens allegedly touched his arm.  Pushing and shoving escalated into a struggle, and things quickly got out of hand. The police department at first defended the officer and blamed the girls for resisting arrest. But now the police chief is reviewing procedures and conducting an internal investigation.   The police union says the officer was justified and followed his training.

Sexual Abuse in Juvenile Facilities

Some alarming numbers about children who are sexually abused while in custody are contained in a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on May 10, 2010 from seven national advocacy groups.  The Children’s Defense Fund,  Campaign for Youth Justice,  Youth Law Center  and other groups created a report called Preventing the Sexual Abuse of Youth in Correctional Settings. Some of their recommendations:

Training in adolescent development for people who work or volunteer in youth facilities. More direct supervision by trained adults instead of video surveillance. Assessment standards and safety plans to keep vulnerable children safe. Limiting harsh responses to consensual sex between residents, where it may not be abusive

The report contains current federal laws, plus information about the new Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act currently under review in Congress.  It also features research, questionnaires, and resolutions from the PTA, the American Bar Association, the NAACP and other organizations concerned about the risks of placing juveniles under 18 in adult prisons. See more numbers here.