The School-to-Prison Pipeline, Part II: Youth in jail

Originally published in WBFO on September 25, 2019.

David Wright is well aware of the negative outcomes associated with dropping out of school.

“I always had problems in school growing up,” Wright said. “Just acting out. Getting into arguments and fights with the teacher and everything.”

Wright attended Buffalo Public Schools during his childhood. An unstable home life carried over to school and by high school he was getting suspended multiple times each year.

New York state Senator Velmanette Montgomery described the theory of how out-of-school suspensions can lead to incarceration on a recent episode of WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom.

“We know that anytime young people are out of school, especially for any length of time, they are more likely to get in trouble with the police on the outside,” she said. “And therefore, that establishes the pipeline. So the school becomes the beginning of the pipeline to prison.”

Montgomery is the sponsor of a bill that would fundamentally change the system of punishment in public schools. It is in committee and was not voted on in the last legislative session.

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