How Juvenile Defenders Can Help Dismantle the School-to-Prison Pipeline: A Primer on Educational Advocacy and Incorporating Clients' Education Histories into Delinquency Representation

Journal of Law & Education, Vol. 42, Issue. 4, p. 653, Fall 2013

UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2389405

29 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2014 Last revised: 30 Jul 2014

See all articles by Jason Langberg

Jason Langberg

Independent

Barbara Fedders

University of North Carolina School of Law

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

The school-to-prison pipeline is a collection of punitive laws, policies, and practices that push young people -- particularly African-American students, male students, students with disabilities, and students from low-wealth communities -- out of school and into the juvenile and criminal systems. By understanding and asserting their clients' educational rights and incorporating their clients' education histories and records into their delinquency representation, juvenile defenders can help dismantle the pipeline.

The school-to-prison pipeline is a collection of punitive laws, policies, and practices that push young people, particularly African-American students, male students, students with disabilities, and students from low-wealth communities out of school and into the juvenile and criminal systems. By understanding and asserting their clients' educational rights and incorporating their clients' education histories and records into their delinquency representation, juvenile defenders can help dismantle the pipeline. Specifically, incorporation of their clients' education histories and knowledge of education law can assist a defender in making arguments for diversion from the juvenile system; improving negotiation; litigating pretrial motions; arguing defenses related to capacity and intent; making creative dispositional arguments; and obtaining essential educational services for the client, all of which can reduce the client's chances of further juvenile and criminal system involvement. We provide a brief history of the increased imposition of excessively punitive discipline and law enforcement imperatives on public education. This history includes reference to data showing that excessive discipline and heightened law enforcement presence fail to make schools safer. We discuss the consequences of harsh disciplinary policies, including increased referrals to juvenile and criminal systems and exclusion of ever growing numbers of students from the education system. Part III sets forth the ethical backdrop for the argument that defenders have a role to play in helping dismantle the pipeline. Part IV makes specific practice recommendations for defenders in their delinquency representation as well as advocacy suggestions for advancing educational rights.

Keywords: education law, juvenile justice

Suggested Citation

Langberg, Jason and Fedders, Barbara, How Juvenile Defenders Can Help Dismantle the School-to-Prison Pipeline: A Primer on Educational Advocacy and Incorporating Clients' Education Histories into Delinquency Representation (2013). Journal of Law & Education, Vol. 42, Issue. 4, p. 653, Fall 2013, UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2389405, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2389405

Barbara Fedders

University of North Carolina School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
chapel Hill, NC 27599
United States

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