Jena 6 Hearing a Step in the Right Direction to End School-to-Prison Pipeline

October 16, 2007 12:00 am

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Contact: media@dcaclu.org, (202) 675-2312

Washington, DC – The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing today to examine violence in public schools in light of the Jena Six case, a move the American Civil Liberties Union hopes will inspire Congress to fix the racial disparities in the juvenile and criminal justice system exemplified by the unfair treatment of the six Louisiana students. Specifically, the ACLU hopes Congress will examine the systemic funneling of students from schools into the juvenile and criminal justice systems, known as the school to prison pipeline.

The ACLU of Louisiana was among the first groups on the ground in Jena, mobilizing people across Louisiana and ultimately moving others across the country to take up the cause of the six students. The six black students had been punished far more severely than their white counterparts after racially motivated fighting swept through their school.

The following can be attributed to ACLU Legislative Counsel Jesselyn McCurdy:

“Jena was a wake-up call: Racism in America is alive and well. Our country is still fighting for civil rights, and the battlefield isn’t just in the courtroom and on the streets – unfortunately the battlefield is on the playgrounds and in the classrooms, too.

“Children of color in our country are being groomed for prison rather than college. High schools are not way stations until students graduate to prison, and children aren’t inmates waiting for a sentence. Schools are places to learn, and all students deserve that opportunity. Jena is a disgrace for the nation, but we hope Congress will seize it as an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and eliminate racism in the justice system at its roots.”

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