When police arrest children

By Harold Jordan, Senior Policy Advocate, ACLU of Pennsylvania

Photo from Steven Lane of The Associated Press.

One of the issues that the ACLU has been working on diligently, for years, has been student and youth rights. This week, NBC News aired a series of reports on police in schools.

As a part of the reporting project, many local affiliates are running companion investigatory pieces. Here in Philadelphia, NBC 10 aired a two-segment series on school discipline beginning last night with “Policing Our Schools: Uneven Rates of Discipline in our Region.” It includes an interview with yours truly. The second segment is called “Changing the Narrative on School Discipline.”

The lead-off segment for the national report ran on Sunday, on NBC News with Lester Holt. A longer piece ran on the Today show. The stories feature an ACLU of Missouri client, a 7-year old kid who was handcuffed.

Here is a quick guide to some of the other reports that have aired so far.

  • From NBC News: “Kids in Cuffs: Why Handcuff a Student With a Disability”
  • From NBC Boston: “Off-the-Books Suspensions May Enable Some Schools to Skirt State Law.”
  • From NBC NYC: “Policing the Schools: Minority Students More Likely to Be Suspended or Arrested.”
  • From NBC Bay Area, a six-part series on police in schools: “Arrested at School”

IN OTHER NEWS

(Criminal justice news that could use a second look.)

Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration enforcement ramps up 287(g), a program that allows local law enforcement to serve as federal immigration agents. Photo from The Atlantic.
  • From The Atlantic: “Donald Trump’s Plan to Outsource Immigration Enforcement to Local Cops”

“Thirty-eight law enforcement agencies are currently collaborating with ICE, according to the government’s latest figures. But a report released by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in December found that the overwhelming majority of the 2,556 counties surveyed didn’t need formal programs: They were already offering assistance to ICE. An early example is the Milwaukee Sheriff’s Department, led by Trump surrogate David Clarke, which teamed up with ICE for a 2-day raid in Wisconsin that ended on the same day that the president signed his executive order enlisting help from local law enforcement. The sheriff’s department has not formally entered agreements to join the 287(g) program. Still, local law enforcement played an active role in arresting 16 undocumented immigrants, all of whom authorities said had previous criminal convictions ranging from assault to drug possession.”

“Even FBI Director James Comey recognized that a lack of data is driving police and citizens further apart. It seems like an issue that should have been addressed ages ago. In fact, it was. In 2000, Congress passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA), which required police departments to track and report to the U.S. Attorney General the number of civilians who died in police custody or during arrest. Garnering bipartisan support, the law was heralded as a major step forward in the measurement and improvement of police use of force. The result? It took 15 years for the federal government to issue any kind of report on the DCRA’s data. When it did, it showed poor data coverage and quality. Fewer than half of ‘arrest related deaths’ were recorded, and there were major quality issues due to ‘lack of standardized modes for data collection, definitions, scope, participation, and the availability of resources.’”

  • From The Urban Institute: “How Do People in High-Crime, Low-Income Communities View the Police?”

“Residents of these high-crime, heavily disadvantaged communities witness and experience intensive police presence, high rates of incarceration and community supervision, and concentrated violence and question the intent, effectiveness, and equity of the criminal justice system. Indeed, police may carry out aggressive strategies that target quality-of-life infractions and drug-, gun-, and gang-related violence in ways that undermine public confidence. Perhaps not surprisingly, areas with high levels of mistrust tend to be those that are heavily policed, where police use tactics such as pretextual stops that damage their relationship with the people they are charged to protect. The results can be far-reaching: a distrust of the criminal justice system, an unwillingness to cooperate with the police, and a cynical view of the law that can perpetuate crime and victimization.”

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