SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE
Traditional discipline within schools focuses on punitive measures such as expulsion and suspension, actions which often alter the life path of students and feed the school-to-prison pipeline. School discipline policies should seek to both hold students accountable for their actions while also promoting learning, growth and the opportunity to repair harm. School discipline policies should be grounded in the principles of restorative practices and focused on keeping students part of the school community as much as possible.
We must understand that disciplinary processes impact students of color disproportionately, and any school discipline policy should take into consideration cultural competency and implicit bias, and should be viewed through a racial justice lens.
Schools should engage in the proactive creation of school culture which focuses on providing school staff and administration with the tools and skills needed to address conflict through restorative practices and supports school policies which further this approach. We need to encourage our policymakers to support policies that end the school-to-prison pipeline, and policies such as suspension, expulsion, and zero-tolerance.
LEGALIZE CANNABIS FEDERALLY
As of June 2018, nine states have legalized recreational marijuana use and 30 states have legalized medical marijuana use. Chuck Schumer recently proposed the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act (S.3174), which would legalize cannabis at a federal level. Legalizing marijuana recreationally and medically has many benefits for the economy, individual citizens, and for criminal justice reform.
Decriminalizing marijuana helps thousands of people obtain the medicine they need and keeps people who pose no danger to public safety out of the criminal justice system. The criminalization of marijuana enhances racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Medical marijuana is extremely helpful for many very sick people. It is also much less dangerous than other legal substances, such as alcohol. Legalizing marijuana has economic benefits, as seen in Washington and Colorado.
Urge your Senators to support the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act to federally decriminalize cannabis!
FIRST STEP ACT
The FIRST STEP Act is bipartisan criminal justice legislation moving through the US Senate. If passed, it would transform the federal Bureau of Prisons and hold the DOJ accountable for improving the lives of 200,000 currently incarcerated men and women.
The First Step Act will:
- Ban the shackling of women during childbirth.
- Give people in prison who are elderly or terminally ill a pathway home.
- Give thousands of men and women an opportunity to come home sooner.
- Make the three-strikes rule less harsh
- Give inmates good-time credit for taking vocational classes
This bill has already passed through the House, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he may not allow the bill to come to the floor for a vote. Contact your Senator and Mitch McConnell and ask them to support the First Step Act and start the criminal justice reform we desperately need.