In fact, Louisiana has gotten so “good” at putting people — and in particular, young people of color – in jail that there’s even a name for the phenomenon: The School to Prison Pipeline.
“We define the School to Prison Pipeline as the systematic and institutional approach to depriving poor people of color a right to an equitable and quality education by pushing kids out of school through unjust suspension and expulsions, high-stakes testing, the lack of educational resources on a consistent basis,” said Gina Womack, executive director of Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), a statewide membership-based organization that fights for a better life for all of Louisiana’s youth, especially those involved in or targeted by the juvenile justice system.
In addition, a lack of educational resources, consistent denial of special education services, lowered expectations, zero tolerance policies, and the creation of prison-like environments in the schools through overzealous police and security guards all serve to increase the flow of kids through the “pipeline,” according to information provided by FFLIC.
“We want to reduce the unnecessary suspensions and expulsions,” said Womack, “and we’re doing that through rewriting the statute on school discipline, which we think is very subjective.”
FFLIC also helps families advocate for their children when they are suspended and expelled, while also providing leadership development for parents to help them navigate the juvenile justice system. They engage in education, community building, and advocacy to empower individuals, families and communities to transform currently oppressive systems and institutions into ones that uphold justice for families.
October is national juvenile justice awareness month, and in addition to a week of action, FFLIC is hosting its 3rd Annual 5K Run/Walk for Juvenile Justice Sunday, Oct. 7, in order to bring awareness to juvenile justice and youth being transferred to the adult criminal system.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. at Audubon Park’s Shelter 10, and the race begins at 9:30. The entrance fee/donation for children 17-and-under or individuals in a group of five or more is $15, while it’s $20 for individual adults.
Registration forms are available at FFLIC’s office at 1600 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70113, or download by clicking here.
Journalist and filmmaker Brian Friedman writes about New Orleans for NolaVie.