Funding Nevada’s school-to-prison pipeline is not the solution

Affiliate: ACLU of Nevada
March 5, 2019 9:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Nevada
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LAS VEGAS — Tonight the Nevada Legislature will hear recommendations from former Gov. Brian Sandoval’s School Safety Task Force, which aimed to find ways to ensure the safety of Nevada students.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada appreciates the Task Force’s efforts, but strongly opposes its proposals for increased law enforcement presence on school campuses. This expenditure will feed the school-to-prison-pipeline and is the wrong approach to protecting students. The state should invest in training for current officers and further investment in other meaningful proposals such as mental healthcare and social workers.

Armed police presence unnecessarily brings more students into conflict with police and school staff, diminishes student trust in administrators, and makes it difficult for educators to create a safe and supportive environment for students that is conducive to learning. This erosion of trust will result in reluctance to report issues to school staff and will only cause our schools to be less safe.

The ACLU of Nevada urges all Nevadans to contact their representatives to urge them not to fund the school-to-prison pipeline.

ACLU of Nevada Policy Director Holly Welborn said:

“More police in schools will only harm Nevada’s most vulnerable students. Restorative justice practices, increased mental health and behavioral supports, and better de-escalation training is the smart way to protect our children’s safety.”

Early, and unnecessary, interaction with the juvenile justice system significantly increases a child’s likelihood of entering the adult criminal justice system. And students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately harmed by armed personnel in schools.

— Clark County school police have referred more than 22,000 students to the criminal justice system since 2013, an increase of 111 percent between 2013 and 2017. The rate at which youths were sentenced to confinement at the Clark County juvenile detention center went up by 27 percent in the same period.

— Black students are 3.4 times more likely than white students to be subject to a school-related arrest, and students with disabilities account for 25 percent of arrests at school (but are only 12 percent of the student population).

— In Clark County, black and brown youths make up 76 percent of all juvenile cases referred to the District Attorneys office.

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