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Document Type

Special Section 2

Theme

FROM THEORY TO ACTIVISM: PERSPECTIVES FROM YOUTH ADVOCACY GROUPS IN WASHINGTON STATE

Abstract

This article explores an under examined facet of the school to prison pipeline by focusing a magnifying glass on the real life stories of youth in Washington State who have become stuck in a cycle of school failure and escalating involvement in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. These concrete case studies allow us to explore the ways that the public education and juvenile justice systems have become entangled and how this entanglement creates significant barriers for youth in their attempts to successfully pursue meaningful educational goals, including high school graduation. The article also explores how this entanglement makes it difficult for youth to extricate themselves from the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The article will examine the impact of indefinite exclusion from school for a wide array of school based behaviors and the lack of a clear path back to school enrollment and will look more closely at school discipline practices and their impact on probation violations in juvenile court. The article will also explore the criminalization of disability-related behaviors in school. Finally, the article will look at re-entry to public schools after time spent in detention and prison. Through analysis of the stories of youth and the systems they interact with, successful strategies for creating better outcomes for individual youth will be identified and changes proposed that would disentangle the public education and the juvenile justice systems, thus making room for better educational and community-based outcomes for all youth.

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