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La. Group Works to Reduce 'School-to-Prison Pipeline'


A community group in Louisiana is asking that the incarceration levels of young people in the state and the education discipline they receive be re-examined and that officials and residents help stop what many have dubbed the “School-to-Prison Pipeline.”

Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) maintains that “zero tolerance” policies in public schools have led to suspensions and expulsions of young people, which hurt families and communities. 

During the 2009-10 academic year, there were more than 80,000 disciplinary actions for disobedience, FFLIC said in a statement. Each year, there are about 300,000 suspensions and expulsions in the state.

More than half of African American young people who are in the juvenile justice system report being suspended from school at least once, the group said, and youth in the state have been incarcerated for nonviolent offenses.

“Many of these children drop out of school and eventually carry heavy individual cost(s) while placing significant burdens on society,” FFLIC said, adding that having more students graduate is one way to help reduce crime and make communities stronger.

The group believes such discipline of young people goes against the state Constitution, which calls on educational experiences to be “humane” and “promote excellence.”

FFLIC works with parents and encourages them to take an active role in helping young people do well in school.

“A child born into a low-income family will not be protected from the effects of cruel and uncaring systems if the parent, the number one line of defense for any child, is not involved,” FFLIC said in a statement.

Parents and other family members who have knowledge and skills will be able to advocate for youth and work with school officials to avoid suspensions and expulsions. FFLIC hopes school and juvenile justice officials will be willing to work with families of all backgrounds to help young people succeed and that policies do not intimidate or alienate parents.

“They have the greatest influence in the lives of their children,” FFLIC said.

Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, an education and community leadership group, works to ensure that youth throughout the state have a better life. 

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