Rhode Island School-To-Prison Pipeline Juvenile Justice


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The School-To-Prison Pipeline: Juvenile Justice

All suspended children face an increased risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system, either because of the behaviors they engage in when they are excluded from school or due to the referral of unruly students to school resource officers or other law enforcement personnel. On top of this, the juvenile justice system itself engages in the flawed, disparate imposition of penalties we see elsewhere. According to Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, “Minority youth (especially Latino and Black youth) are treated more harshly than White youth for the same type and severity of offenses, including detention, processing, and incarceration in juvenile and adult correctional facilities. Rhode Island’s juvenile justice system has some of the widest placement disparities between White and minority youth in the nation.”6 (emphasis ours)

In Rhode Island, black males are 9.3 times as likely as white males to end up in juvenile detention. Despite a growing body of research indicating that incarceration of juveniles can, in fact, increase recidivism and exacerbate criminal behavior, black youth are disproportionately removed from their families and detained in ways that white children are not. Instead of education and redirection, these children enter adulthood with a criminal history, a new set of questionable skills, and a belief that the justice system is wholly unfair. This belief is unlikely to be disproved.

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6Rhode Island KIDS COUNT. (2014) “Racial and Ethnic Disparities.” Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Factbook. http://www.rikidscount.org/matriarch/documents/Ind6.pdf