Main Content
Not K–8: K to Life
Not K–8: K to Life

From Cradle to Incarceration

The road to prison and exclusion from society begins for many as soon as they start school. Sonali Kolhatkar in her post, "Studies Confirm the Dehumanization of Black Children and the ‘Preschool-to-Prison Pipeline", first published on TruthDig.com, and excerpted from Commondreams.org, notes that while African-Americans constitute only 13 percent of all Americans, nearly 50% of prison inmates are black and that their exclusion from society begins with discriminatory disciplinary practices at schools.

From Kolhatkar's post:

Racial justice activists and prison abolition groups have long argued that the “school-to-prison” pipeline funnels young black kids into the criminal justice system, with higher rates of school suspension and arrest compared with nonblack kids for the same infractions. More than 20 years ago, Smith College professor Ann Arnett Ferguson wrote a groundbreaking book based on her three-year study of how black boys in particular are perceived differently starting in school. In “Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity,” Ferguson laid out the ways in which educators and administrators funneled black male students into the juvenile justice system based on perceived differences between them and other students.

Today this trend continues with record numbers of suspensions as a result of “zero-tolerance” school policies and the increasing presence of campus police officers who arrest students for insubordination, fights and other types of behavior that might be considered normal “acting out” in school-aged children. In fact, black youth are far more likely to be suspended from school than any other race. They also face disproportionate expulsion and arrest rates, and once children enter the juvenile justice system they are far more likely to be incarcerated as adults...

But it turns out that negative disciplinary actions affect African-American children starting as early as age 3. The U.S. Department of Education just released a comprehensive study of public schools, revealing in a report that black children face discrimination even in preschool. (That preschool-aged children are suspended at all is hugely disturbing.) Data from the 2011-2012 year show that although black children make up only 18 percent of preschoolers, 42 percent of them were suspended at least once and 48 percent were suspended multiple times.

Learn what the UUA is doing to end Mass Incarceration. Learn how the UUA promotes inclusion and equality for all people. Read Sonali Kolhatkar's full post on Commom Dreams. Read Sonali Kolhatkar's full post on TruthDig.

About the Author

  • Ted joined the staff of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries in February 2010. He brings more than twenty years' experience using media to create social change by creating communications strategies and content for progressive non-profits, political campaigns, and cause...

Like, Share, Print, or Explore

For more information contact blueboat@uua.org.

Section Menu