New Report: Policing Chicago Public Schools

“Our schools have become almost like satellite police stations.” – Steve Drizin[1]

Project NIA (www.project-nia.org) has released a new report titled “Policing Chicago Public Schools: A Gateway to the School-to-Prison Pipeline.” The report relies on data from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to show (for the first time in seven years) the type of offenses and the demographics (gender, age and race) of the juveniles arrested on CPS properties in calendar year 2010.  We were limited in our findings because CPD reports data by police district rather than by individual school.

The report was written by Mariame Kaba and Frank Edwards.

The key data points in the report are that:

  1. Too many young people are still being arrested on CPS properties.  Over 5,500 arrests of young people under 18 years old took place on CPS properties in 2010.  If we include those between 18 and 20 years old, the number increases to over 6,100 arrests.
  2. Black youth are disproportionately targeted by these arrests. While they represent 45% of CPS students, black youth account for 74% percent of juvenile school-based arrests.  This mirrors the general trend of disproportionate minority contact within the juvenile legal system. For example, while they comprise only 34% of youth ages 5 to 17 in the city of Chicago, African American youth accounted for 76% of citywide juvenile arrests (youth 17 and under) in 2010.
  3. Young men are much more likely to be arrested on CPS properties than are their female counterparts [73% vs. 27%].
  4. Male youth under 21 years old are most often arrested on CPS property for simple battery followed by drug abuse violations and disorderly conduct.  Females under 21 are most often arrested for simple battery, disorderly conduct and miscellaneous non-index offenses.  Nearly a third (27%) of school-based arrest offenses on CPS property is simple battery.  This suggests that a significant number of CPS students are probably being arrested for fighting.
  5. Certain police districts are more likely to arrest youth in schools than others. In particular, the highest aggregate[2] numbers of juvenile school-based arrests are in the 4th, 6th, 8th, 22nd, and 5th police districts.  Together these five districts account for 39% of total juvenile school-based arrests on CPS properties.

In discussions about the school-to-prison pipeline, we need concrete examples of how the process works. As such, it is important to understand the role that police and security staff play in our schools.  Yet reports about police involvement in CPS have unfortunately not been readily available to the public.  There is no easily accessible citywide or statewide data that illustrate how many students are arrested in schools each year.  The last report that was written about the role of police in Chicago Public Schools was published in 2005 by the Advancement Project.  That report, “Education on Lockdown,” found that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) referred over 8,000 students to law enforcement in 2003. Forty percent of these referrals were for simple assault or battery with no serious injuries. Most of these cases were dismissed[3].

You can download the report HERE.


[1] Quote by Steve Drizin, director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth at Northwestern University

[2] We wish that we could compare arrest rates per district but we cannot access total numbers of youth in each district in order to do those calculations.  Arrest rates would tell us more about whether certain districts are disproportionately targeting youth for school-based arrests.


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About Suspensionstories

Suspension Stories is a youth-led participatory action research project to understand the school to prison pipeline. This initiative is the result of a collaboration between the Rogers Park Young Women's Action Team (www.rogersparkywat.org) and Project NIA (www.project-nia.org).
This entry was posted in Criminalizing Youth, Harsh Disciplinary Policies, Restorative Justice, School Pushout, School to Prison Pipeline, School-based arrests, Zero Tolerance. Bookmark the permalink.

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