Meet the Stakeholders

As host of this second in a series of education specials, Tavis takes his cameras across the country to present a narrative of what is working on the frontlines of reforming the juvenile justice system. He travels to Washington State, Louisiana, Missouri and California, talking to experts and advocates, as well as teens caught up in the juvenile justice system, who speak frankly about the mistakes they’ve made and the consequences of being in lockdown.

Meet some of the people who are featured in “Education Under Arrest.”

Judge Jimmie Edwards – Family Court/Founder, Innovative Concept Academy, St. Louis, MO
“I can stand up and say lock ’em up and throw away the key are not the answers. I believe that we need to educate them, because I simply believe in my heart that locking an 11-year-old up for any length of time doesn’t make sense, not for that 11-year-old, not for his family and certainly not for the community.”
Michael Triplett – Principal, Innovative Concept Academy, St. Louis, MO
“What we do differently here is…overdose them with hope. We overdose ’em with tough love. And I say tough love because the one thing that our kids know how to do is defend themselves. So we have to teach ’em not that every battle is not meant to be fought, but every war is meant to be won; so pick and choose your battles.”
John Deasy – Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District
“Where we’ve lost our balance on this and I think this notion of zero tolerance is that everything requires the extreme action; and it doesn’t; and we know that. Most students who come to our school are reasonable, want to be in school, but have extraordinary impact in their lives; and you and I grew up, sometimes when we were in middle school and high school, we did not think as clearly as we do now.”
Debra Duardo, Director, Pupil Services, Los Angeles Unified School District
“I think a lot of teachers are afraid of the children that they are obligated to educate, and I think that until we start to see our children for what they are—beautiful human beings who have the potential, the ability to learn and to do whatever they want to do given the support and guidance that they need—we’re not going to see changes.”
Rachel Guzman – Los Angeles School Police Department
“I want to be able to give them the second chance. I want to give them the opportunity to better themselves.”
Steven Zipperman – Chief, Los Angeles School Police Department
“I think we’ve realized that the problem with the zero tolerance is it really doesn’t leave us a lot of alternatives, and I think we have to realize that there should be some steps for many of these violators, in between the black and white.”
Rashaad Horton – Deputy Probation Officer, L.A. County Probation
“At the end of the day, even though these minors might have committed a crime, they’re still kids. 16- 17-year-old kids. To me, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing this kid’s grades improve or seeing this kid who had no hope 1 year, 2 years prior, on stage, getting their high school diploma. When I see those kids at graduation, I’ve done my job.”
Tanesha Lockhart – Deputy Probation Officer, L.A. County Probation
“I have to win the right to be heard. They won’t open up until they see something in me.”
Joshua Perry – Associate Director, Juvenile Regional Services, New Orleans, LA
“People shouldn’t be getting services through the courts; they shouldn’t be getting services in jails. Children shouldn’t have to go into custody before they can see a psychiatrist. That’s not the way we ought to be raising our children.”
Anna Lellelid, Advocate, Stand Up for Each Other!
“We’ve continually underfunded education to inner-city schools, and kids are growing up in incredibly stressful environments, but what is our response? Our response then is to create schools where we are really gutting the social services from those schools; we are not providing those kids with extracurricular; we are not providing them with music.”
Laura Taishoff – Youth Advocate, Juvenile Regional Services, New Orleans, LA
“No matter what you did, you have a right to be in school; you have a right to be in the best school you can. And I love New Orleans; and these kids are the future of New Orleans. I want them to have everything possible to take this city into the future.”
Tyler Whittenberg – Advocate, Stand Up for Each Other!
“I think what’s happening is that we try to create these hard-line rules that supposedly promote school safety, when they really isolate students. So instead of giving them the support that they need, they literally push them out of the classroom.”
Larry Bush – Principal, Spokane Valley (WA) High School
“Our job is to keep them from going to the court. Even though the court has a lot of services for those kids, we found that once those kids get into the system, that can be a problem for them a long time down the road.”
Larry Gardner – Principal, Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center School & SAC, Spokane, WA
“Most of the kids that come here, if you would ask them that one question of why you are here, they’re gonna say, ‘Nobody cared about me, didn’t have anybody that knew me, didn’t have anybody that cared about me, supported me.'”
Tony Johnson – Shift Supervisor, Juvenile Detention Center School, Spokane WA
“We get kids that come in here, they’re yelling; they’re screaming; ’cause it’s chaos. Their life is chaos. They come in here, it’s an opportunity to show them something that’s not chaos…something that says ‘I get you; I hear your screaming out. Let me offer you something different to do the same thing, but in the right way.'”
Christy Rasmussen – Principal, New Horizons High School, Pasco WA
“They don’t teach you in principal schools how to interact with law enforcement. They don’t teach you how to find homeless shelters. They don’t teach you how to contact domestic violence advocates. They don’t teach you how to find healthcare for youth that don’t have insurance. So the hard part at first was the curve of learning, ‘Where do I reach out to, to get help?'”
Jacqueline Van Wormer – Director, Models for Change, Spokane, WA
“America needs to get smarter about how we view our juvenile justice system. I know everyone’s concerned about the budget, concerned about the fiscal status of our country. Why don’t we take a heavy look at our criminal justice system, or prison system, or adult system and how things operate? We’re learning a lot of lessons in the adult system even about using services and programs.”




Last modified: April 11, 2013 at 2:14 am
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