California Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Stop School-to-Prison Pipeline

Girls detained at Camp Kenyon Scudder sit in their shared dorm space at the Santa Clarita facility. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

California lawmakers on Monday said they have filed a package of bills in an attempt to divert children from a school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately affects low-income and black and Latino families.

Sens. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) have introduced eight proposals that would extend protections for children facing arrest or detention and ease punishment and burdensome fees for those inside the juvenile justice system.

In a news conference at Sacramento’s Leataata Floyd Elementary School, home to what lawmakers called model educational programs meant to empower children, Mitchell and Lara said they wanted their legislation to center on prevention, rehabilitation and keeping families together.

“Jail is no place for a child under 11,” Mitchell told reporters. “Children are not pint-sized adults. They have a developmental process that they go through to grow into adults. So, for us to expect that a child will have the same judgment, understanding of legal terminology is simply naive.”

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