Why Zero Tolerance Means More Kids in Jail

Why Zero Tolerance Means More Kids in Jail by Tuli Farley

To read this article on the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange website, click here.

The United States imprisons more people than any other country — and a staggering number are juveniles. In fact, about half a million juveniles a year enter detention centers, not including those tried as adults, according to the Justice Policy Institute, a nonprofit organization that supports alternatives to incarceration. Sadly, our school system is contributing to the problem. Too many children are denied their right to a quality education and instead set on a path toward failure and incarceration.

Our educational institutions are supposed to help us gain the skills we need to succeed in society and make the sometimes tough transition from child to adult. But for many young people, that’s not happening. The “school-to-prison pipeline” is a term often used to describe the bewilderingly high number of students who are directed — almost as if on an assembly line — toward prison rather than a successful future. The problem has become so serious that the U.S. Senate held hearings last December to try to put an end to the pipeline.