Again and again the data show that people of color in the U.S. are disproportionately, and systematically, stopped, frisked, arrested, and exposed to the use of force by police. Police departments and communities across the U.S. are struggling with these realities and with what has become a glaring divide in how Americans experience and relate to policing. This special collection includes research from nonprofits, foundations, and university based research centers, who have not only described and documented the issue but who also provide much-needed recommendations for addressing this chronic and tragic problem.

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We are the Prey: Racial Profiling and Policing of Youth in New Bedford

April 1, 2021

The New Bedford Police Department reports incidents involving young people of color at disproportionate rates that are shocking in a white majority city. Additionally, there are patterns of over-policing lower-income neighborhoods, both formally and informally, as police officers are encouraged to live in public housing by rents that are discounted far below that of other residents and communities of color bearing the brunt of frequent stops and interrogations by the NBPD.The NBPD maintains a database of residents it alleges are gang affiliated, the majority of whom are young men of color. Though criteria are subjective, inclusion on the database is used as a pretext to violate the rights of listed people and, they report, their families as well. A handful of officers account for almost half of the incidents involving Black and Latinx residents. Like most departments, NBPD operates on a seniority system that makes it difficult for younger recruits to object to biased behavior – even against themselves when they are people of color.Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CfJJ) obtained the information in this report through police department data, interviews with stakeholders in New Bedford, and media accounts. 

Pomona Police Department’s Crusade Against Black and Latinx Youth

March 4, 2021

In 2021, Gente Organizada released a first-of-its-kind report on racial profiling practices in local law enforcement in the City of Pomona. Pomona Police Department's Crusade Against Black and Latinx Youth presents clear evidence of the Pomona Police Department (PPD)'s longstanding history of discrimination and harassment focused on BIPOC youth.Using quantitative data sourced from the PPD, the 18-page report examines trends in the arrests of young people— both juveniles and transitional-aged adults— under the age of 25 between January 2016 and June 2020. In addition to highlighting racial disparities in policing, the report also calls out patterns in youth arrests according to race, sex, charge level, and charge categories.

Reducing Youth Arrests: Prevention and Pre-Arrest Diversion

January 13, 2020

We are at a moment in time when we are collectively rethinking how society treats children. A big piece of this work is harm reduction—stemming the tide of the huge numbers of youth that have been flowing into our justice systems, and the significant overrepresentation of youth of color, youth with disabilities, and LGBTQ/gender nonconforming youth.Equally important is reorienting society's approach to view issues of youth behavior and welfare through a public health lens instead of a punitive lens—looking at how can we unlock the potential of our youth rather than focusing on locking them up. When society supports youth and provides them with resources needed for positive youth development, such as good health care, housing, education, healthy food, and nurturing relationships, we are setting them on a path for success. However, when policing is heavily concentrated in marginalized communities, leading to frequent stop andfrisks of young people, then we are sending them down a different path—one in which future contacts with police and arrests are more likely.

Policing Youth of Color; Reform Strategies

From the Classroom to the Courtroom: A Review of Nebraska's School Police Programs

December 1, 2018

Nebraska has 244 public school districts educating nearly 324,000 children. Approximately twenty-four percent of Nebraska public school students are people of color. Consistent with national trends, students of color are disproportionately overrepresented in schools contracting with law enforcement agencies to place police in schools. According to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) data, during the 2015-2016 school year, 1,502 Nebraska students in public schools with school police were referred to law enforcement by their school. Additionally, some counties in Nebraska have schools with police, but no counselor, social worker, or nurse.In Nebraska, consistent with national trends, there is a growing practice of using police officers in our schools. Despite this trend, there is no state-specific data on school police aside from the federal data collected by the OCR. The OCR requires schools to report the demographic data of those students referred to law enforcement and the number of law enforcement officers found in each school district, yet it does not track other important metrics. As reflected in this report, we have an incomplete, yet disturbing picture of these programs. 

An Inclusive Approach to School Safety Collaborative Efforts to Combat the School-to-Prison Pipeline in Denver

June 1, 2018

The Denver Police Department (DPD), Denver Public Schools (DPS), and community organizations in the Denver area have built a collaborative approach to school safety and positive youth development designed to combat the school-toprison pipeline. Together, these organizations advocate a comprehensive approach to safety in which schools' disciplinary policies avoid removing students from the classroom, social service providers are substantively included in ongoing safety efforts, and students within the juvenile justice system are included in youth engagement efforts. The goals are to establish positive relationships between students, faculty, school staff members, and school resource officers; prioritize student wellbeing; and involve police only as a last resort following efforts to de-escalate conflict.Early indicators show that Denver's approach is working: In the last five years, rates of student suspension, expulsion, and referral to law enforcement have declined despite a 6 percent increase in total student enrollment over the same period. From the 2012–2013 school year to the 2014–2015 school year, district-wide in-school suspensions declined by 35 percent, out-of-school suspensions by 15 percent, expulsions by 32 percent, and referrals to law enforcement by 30 percent. What's more, the total number of behavioral incidents reported to DPS declined by 9 percent over the same period, indicating that the number of potential safety risks to students has decreased following changes in policy and practice.Viewing these efforts holistically, this report identifies a number of promising practices and lessons learned thatpractitioners, policymakers, and researchers may consider when engaging with students around the country

School-to-Prison Pipeline

Student Safety Act Reporting 2017 in Review

April 26, 2018

The Student Safety Act (SSA) requires that the New York City Police Department publically issue quarterly reports on arrests, summonses, and other police-involved incidents in New York City public schools.i The 2017 calendar year is the second year in which the NYPD reported on activity in schools by officers outside of the School Safety Division, giving a more complete picture of the impact police have on the educational environment. iiSince 2012, the number of arrests and summonses issued by School Safety Officers (SSOs) has consistently declined. In 2017, SS0s were responsible for less than 15% of arrests and 2% of summonses. However, the vast majority of police interactions with students in school are not with the school safety officers specially trained to work with youth in schools, but with other law enforcement officials, including armed patrol officers. In addition, 366 arrests (29% of total arrests in schools) were for incidents that occured off school grounds and had no relationship to the school, indicating that police may be using schools as a place to locate and arrest young people for non-school related offenses. This practice sends the harmful message that kids in trouble should stay away from school.The School Safety Division has made a significant effort to reduce the use of summonses for non-criminal offenses. In 2017 they issued just 18 summonses, down from 1,275 in 2012. Summonses for disorderly conduct, including unreasonable noise, fighting and obscene language, are not an appropriate response to student misbehavior. However, precinct officers are not required to follow the same procedures as the School Safety Division, and officers issued nearly 900 summonses, sending children into the criminal justice system for misbehavior.Black and Latino students continue to bear the burden of arrests, summonses, and police interactions in school, and the city has failed its responsibility to reduce the racial disparities in its school safety program. Black and Latino students represent 66.9 % of the student body, but 90.2% of arrests and 89.3% of summonses in school. They also accounted for 88.4% of child-in-crisis incidents, 87.9% of juvenile reports, and 89.5% of mitigated incidents. Students of color were also more likely than white students to be handcuffed for school misbehavior, even where there is no criminal activity. Black and Latino students accounted for 92.5% of juvenile reports and 94.4% of mitigated incidents where handcuffs were used, as well as 93.4% of child-in-crisis incidents where handcuffs were used.

Police Data

From Failure to Freedom: Dismantling Milwaukee's School-to-Prison Pipeline with the Youth Power Agenda

April 1, 2018

The systemic criminalization of youth of color, youth with disabilities, and youth of color with disabilities in schools is one of the most blatant and egregious examples of structural racism and violence in this country. The presence of police officers, guns, handcuffs, and metal detectors in schools creates hostile teaching and learning environments that are reinforced by harsh, punitive, and exclusionaryii school discipline policies. Together these practices constitute what is widely referred to as the school-to-prison pipeline. As this report demonstrates, Milwaukee's reliance on punitive approaches to discipline is ineffective, costly, and, most troublingly, racially biased.

Policing Youth of Color; School-to-Prison Pipeline

Creating Meaningful Change in the Relationship Between Law Enforcement and Youth of Color

October 1, 2017

Communities of color have a long-standing history of inequitable treatment by the police in the U.S. In recent years, activists with the Black Lives Matter movement have helped to raise the profile of the destructive treatment of the black community by law enforcement, which includes a long line of police shootings of youth of color – Michael Brown, Jordan Edwards, Jessica Hernandez, Ty're King, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Jesse Romero, Stephen Watts– and many more. While these incidents are nothing new, the ubiquitous use of cell phone cameras is now thrusting them into the public's eye. It is past time to change how police interact with black and brown youth.Data bears out the ugly fact that youth of color are killed by police far out of proportion to white youth. This deeply unequal and fundamentally lethal treatment can be attributed to a number of factors. These factors include the widespread over-policing and racial profiling of communities of color, our country's historic treatment of people of color, and implicit and explicit biases by the police and society that cause police and the court systems to view youth of color as older than they are and more culpable than their white peers. Moreover, the lack of consistent and real accountability for police mistreatment and brutality has led to a continuation of this unjust system. This report presents recommendations for reform and details the reasoning behind them.

Policing Youth of Color; Reform Strategies

Implicit Bias: Why It Matters for Youth Justice

September 1, 2017

Bias against youth of color has deep historical roots in this country with overrepresentation of black youth and disparities in treatment originating with the first juvenile court's inception. The view of youth of color as different and deserving of harsher treatment was intensified in the 1980s with the perpetuation of the "superpredator" myth—that a new breed of brutal youth, commonly viewed as youth of color, were going to terrorize the country. Disparate treatment of youth of color is no doubt impacted by the racism that continues to infect our society—most recently and glaringly represented by the August 2017 demonstration by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. While explicit and structural racism contribute to the widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice systems across the country, a more insidious contributor to this problem is that of implicit bias. This snapshot will provide a brief overview of this issue as well as resources to find more information.

Policing Youth of Color; Racial Bias & Profiling

Freedom to Thrive: Reimagining Safety & Security in Our Communities

July 4, 2017

Over the last 30 years, at both the national and local levels, governments have dramatically increased their spending on criminalization, policing, and mass incarceration while drastically cutting investments in basic infrastructure and slowing investment in social safety net programs.

Student Safety Act Reporting 2016 in Review

May 8, 2017

The Student Safety Act (SSA) requires that the New York City Police Department publically issue quarterly reports on arrests, summonses, and other police-involved incidents in New York City public schools. The 2016 calendar year marked the first time that the NYPD reported on activity by officers outside of the School Safety Division, giving a more complete picture of the enormous impact police have on the educational environment. Since 2012, the number of arrests and summonses issued by School Safety Officers (SSOs) has consistently declined. However, in 2016, SS0s were responsible for less than 12% of arrests and 2% of summonses. Thus, this decline in reported incidents is only a fraction of the picture. 2016 is the first year for which school-based incidents involving not only SSOs, but all NYPD personnel, were reported.

Police Data

The $746 Million A Year School-to-Prison Pipeline: The Ineffective, Discriminatory, and Costly Process of Criminalizing New York City Students

April 20, 2017

This report, released by the Center for Popular Democracy and Urban Youth Collaborative, reveals the staggering yearly economic impact of the school-to-prison pipeline in New York City, $746.8 million. In addition, it presents a bold "Young People's School Justice Agenda," which calls on the City to divest from over-policing young people, and invest in supportive programs and opportunities for students to thrive. New evidence of the astronomical fiscal and social costs of New York's school-to-prison pipeline demand urgent action by policymakers. The young people who are most at risk of harm due to harsh policing and disciplinary policies are uniquely situated to lead the dialogue about developing truly safe and equitable learning environments. This report highlights the vision for safe, supportive, and inclusive schools developed by these youth leaders.