The sickening transformation of these United States into an authoritarian police state with an incarceration rate that would make Joseph Stalin blush has been a key theme of my writing since well before the launch of Liberty Blitzkrieg. One of the posts that shocked and disturbed readers most, was published a little over a year ago titled: American Police Make an Arrest Every 2 Seconds in 2012. In the event you never read it, I suggest taking a look before tackling the rest of this piece.
Fast forward to fall 2014, and the Wall Street Journal has a powerful article about how children in school systems across the U.S. are being arrested or turned over to police custody for doing things that children have always done since the beginning of time. Things such as wearing too much perfume, sharing a classmates’ chicken nuggets, throwing an eraser or chewing gum.
As a result of our insane societal obsession with authority and disproportionate punishment, the WSJ reports that “nearly one out of every three American adults are on file in the FBI’s master criminal database.”
A generation ago, schoolchildren caught fighting in the corridors, sassing a teacher or skipping class might have ended up in detention. Today, there’s a good chance they will end up in police custody.
In Texas, a student got a misdemeanor ticket for wearing too much perfume. In Wisconsin, a teen was charged with theft after sharing the chicken nuggets from a classmate’s meal—the classmate was on lunch assistance and sharing it meant the teen had violated the law, authorities said. In Florida, a student conducted a science experiment before the authorization of her teacher; when it went awry she received a felony weapons charge.
Over the past 20 years, prompted by changing police tactics and a zero-tolerance attitude toward small crimes, authorities have made more than a quarter of a billion arrests, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates. Nearly one out of every three American adults are on file in the FBI’s master criminal database.
Did you catch that too? “Zero-tolerance attitude toward small crimes.” Indeed, the big criminals go to Wall Street, crash the economy and then receive trillions in taxpayer bailouts. Or they get a top job in the Obama Administration, such as Jedi-master of cronyism, Tim Geithner, being chosen as Treasury Secretary.
Back to the WSJ…
At school, talking back or disrupting class can be called disorderly conduct, and a fight can lead to assault and battery charges, said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of the Advancement Project, a national civil-rights group examining discipline procedures around the country.
If these rules were in place in my day, I would have been arrested about 150 times.
“We’re not talking about criminal behavior,” said Texas State Sen. John Whitmire, the Democratic chair of the senate’s Criminal Justice Committee, who helped pass a new law last year that limits how police officers can ticket students. “I’m talking about school disciplinary issues, throwing an eraser, chewing gum, too much perfume, unbelievable violations” that were resulting in misdemeanor charges.
According to the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights, 260,000 students were reported, or “referred” in the official language, to law enforcement by schools in 2012, the most recent available data.
The number of school police officers rose 55% to about 19,000 in the 10 years to 2007, the last year for which numbers were available, according to a 2013 study from the Congressional Research Service.
The school’s crackdown has had its intended effect. Victims’ surveys compiled by the Education Department show that there is a lower rate of violent crime committed in schools, falling to 52 incidents per 100,000 students in 2012 from 181 incidents per 100,000 in 1992. Supporters say that alone proves the worth of aggressive policing.
Well yeah, and pigs in a pen are easily controlled too, but are these the types of children we want to raise?
And what about the downside, such as:
Brushes with the criminal justice system go hand in hand with other negative factors. A study last year of Chicago public schools by a University of Texas and a Harvard researcher found the high-school graduation rate for children with arrest records was 26%, compared with 64% for those without. The study estimated about one-quarter of the juveniles arrested in Chicago annually were arrested in school.
A science experiment that went awry turned into a 17-month battle for Kiera Wilmot and her mother as they tried to clear the honor student’s arrest record. According to the police report, she was on school grounds outside the classroom trying out an experiment that hadn’t been authorized by her teacher. Ms. Wilmot, now 18, said she put a piece of the aluminum inside a bottle with two ounces of toilet cleaner to see what would happen. The teen’s mother said she was trying to simulate a volcanic eruption.
“It popped,” blowing the top off the bottle, she said. She was handcuffed by the school-resource office, escorted out of the Bartow, Fla., school and taken to a juvenile facility where she was charged with possessing or discharging firearms or weapons at school and making, throwing, possessing, projecting, placing or discharging a destructive device.