Original air date: March 26, 2013

Education Under Arrest

“(Our goal) is to prevent at risk youth from dropping out of school and to provide dropouts and youth returning from correctional facilities with a support system to ensure their continued education.”
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Education

Many public schools are still operating under the 1999 “Zero Tolerance” initiative, which tied federal funding to this mandate. “Zero Tolerance,” which came about after the horrifying Columbine tragedy, demands that kids be removed from schools the first time they transgress—even for minor offenses. This puts them into the juvenile justice system—a system that those who work within its confines admit too often does a better job of punishment than rehabilitation and re-integration into schools.

Episode Expanded

The second in a series of education specials from Tavis Smiley Reports, this episode looks at the connection between the juvenile justice system and the dropout rate among American teens and the efforts to end this link.
Watch as Jacqueline Van Wormer, assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University, endorses earlier intervention and shares what she believes society can learn from kids within the juvenile justice system.
Challenger Teacher_Student MT
In this feature, we will highlight some notable alternative programs that are frontrunners against this fight against the school-to-prison pipeline.
Tavis talks with Judge Jimmie Edwards
Our cameras give you an inside look at Tavis' travels through St. Louis.
M4C pic 2
Because of Models for Change, the kids involved in Washington’s juvenile justice system will have a better chance for a successful future.
Far too often, students are suspended, expelled, or even arrested for minor offenses that leave visits to the principal’s office a thing of the past. So how bad is the school-to-prison pipeline? See the stats for yourself, leave suggestions, find programs in your local community, take a stance.
Probationer Bennie, currently a student at an alternative school in Los Angeles, CA
From New Orleans to Los Angeles, our camera crew offers a chance to see Tavis with some of the people featured in this report.
Jail Cell Bars Closeup
As education experts and state legislatures debate the best ways to tackle the so-called "schools to prison pipeline," the prisons themselves face a more pressing dilemma.
Michael Triplett, principal of St. Louis’ Innovative Concept Academy explains how ICA is working to reverse and mend the consequences of the outdated and inoperative system of quickly putting kids away for minor offenses.
peer pressure
Former trial attorney Allison R. Brown describes ways in which school discipline contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline and sheds new light on lesser-known statistics and maps out a call to action.
Structured Alternative Confinement (SAC) School students & teachers celebrate a teacher's birthday with cupcakes
Take an inside look at a few shots of filming in Washington State.
Two representatives from New Orleans' Juvenile Regional Services discuss the notion of "unsalvageable youth" and how it goes hand-in-hand with society's fear and lack of understanding.
Photo courtesy Ron Snyder, Oakland Community Organization
The former executive director of Oakland Community Organizations (OCO), a federation of congregations, schools, and allied community organizations, explains how analysis and policy only become real and sustainable when communities take action. Here, he pulls lessons from the success of Oakland schools to help the progress of other communities.
Diverse group of college graduates
It all began with a few African American males who were achieving academically and tired of this making them the minority within their own race.
LA County field probation officer, Tanesha Lockhart, and former at-risk youth, Christopher, share what it was like to work closely together and eventually become friends.
Former youth offender Jonathan Roach was featured in the last installment of Tavis Smiley Reports, "Too Important to Fail". He opens up about his thoughts on prison and its impact on his path to success.
Suspect in custody
As a high school principal, Mel Riddile faced a dilemma. One of his students had been referred to him after being found with a weapon on school grounds.
Watch SAC School instructor Kathy Tribby-Moore and two students, Kaitlyn and Natalia, discuss how student-teacher relationships keep youth returning to the school.
Darren discusses his path from disgruntled student who ditched class and former incarcerated youth, to becoming the one hundredth graduate from New Orleans’ Youth Empowerment Project, who is now a tutor for the program.
Alan, a youth offender featured in "Too Important to Fail" updates us on his life since the last interview and candidly expresses how the interview inspired him, helped him find his niche, and set his plans for the future.
Watch as Nadia, an 18-year-old student at St. Louis' Innovative Concept Academy (ICA), opens up about maturity and shares her take on the recipe for success and how ICA is helping her achieve her goals.
detainee in handcuffs
While experts agree that the primary cause of the current schools-to-prison pipeline is a series of zero-tolerance policies, there is a similar consensus about who is charged with reversing the course.
The co-founder of Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children explains why we must fight for specific policy wins that challenge the bias in how policies allow for the criminalization of youthful behaviors, which keep our children and community in harm's way.
Giddings State School, Giddings, TX
The hope of the Juvenile In Justice project is that by seeing the book's compelling images, people will have a better understanding of the conditions that exist for American juveniles housed in detention or correctional facilities.
A Washington State teen mom with two young children.
See the eye-opening statistics for yourself. Our hope is that, through "Education Under Arrest," we can call many to action and help our young people, and in turn, positively impact our collective futures as a united and equal society.
Debra Duardo, director of pupil services at Los Angeles Unified School District, discusses the challenges in reintegrating and sustaining students in traditional schools.
A large, empty classroom.
More information on key people and organizations in this episode and links to related news articles and blogs.
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