The numbers are telling, in 2014, nearly a third of people incarcerated in Pennsylvania had less than a high school education. On Tuesday, officials came together in Erie hoping to break the link between these two problems.
It was a meeting of the minds on Tuesday night as school officials and law enforcement discussed the School-To-Prison Pipeline. “A lot of times it stems around the way students are dealt with in schools, also the way community supports…” said Ken Nickson.
Nickson says there are many factors that can contribute to a student ending up in prison, one of them being suspension.”Suspension data tend to say how many students are suspended or truant from school can lead students to not being educated and therefor falling into the prison pipeline,” Nickson added.
One of the topics discussed during the panel was truancy which is skipping school for no good reason. Officials say this is one of the leading causes to School-to-Prison Pipeline.
Judge Sue Mack says she’s dealt with numerous truancy cases and early intervention is a way to combat the issue.”There’s a lot of services and things that are out there and we don’t think that the public recognizes what they are and so we’re hoping to do some education in regards to that.” said Judge Mack.
There is an Erie County diversion committee set up to divert first time juvenile offenders from getting in trouble again.
Meanwhile, Nickson added that he hopes people were able to understand the School-to-Prison Pipeline through the eyes of criminal justice and school officials. “We truly do have the best interest in mind when it comes to the school district which would be the students first and the families,” said Nickson.
Some of the other panelists were Chief Dan Spizarny and Assistant Superintendent Bea Habursky.