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Annette Fuentes explores symbiotic relationship between schools and prisons

Phan Nguyen15 July 2011

In an interview in the July 11 Hispanic Outlook, Annette Fuentes expands on the idea of the school-to-prison pipeline, which was featured prominently in her book Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse. While the concept of the school-to-prison pipeline has garnered increasing recognition in the education and criminal justice fields, Fuentes explains that the relationship is more than one-way:

“I would say there is a school-to-prison pipeline, but there is also a prison-to-school pipeline,” says Fuentes. The use of security hardware (cameras, metal detectors and retina detectors) and the practice of treating students as suspects are strategies of the criminal justice system, and they have been flowing into the schools. “It’s like a two-way street, a two-way system that mixes the educational and criminal justice systems. The end result is that we have schools in which the learning environment has been degraded and undermined because we are teaching kids to fear and feel that they are suspects at any particular time,” says Fuentes. “Educators talk about the teachable moments. Unfortunately, public fear of kids, public hysteria around another Columbine, has prevented people from remembering that the mission of public schools is to educate and help kids who have lost their way to find their way,” she says.

Fuentes also elaborates on other themes discussed in Lockdown High, such as the 1990s hysteria over a supposed wave of young Black and Latino “superpredators,” the rejection of a siege mentality in post-massacre Columbine, and alternatives to the school-as-prison framework—primarily the novel concept of nurturing and engaging with students rather than locking them down.

Read the article in full as a PDF from Hispanic Outlook.

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