9781844676811-lockdown-high-max_221

Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse

A riveting report on the overblown fear of violence that turns American schools into prisons and students into suspects.
In the dozen years since the shootings at Columbine High School, hysteria has distorted the media’s coverage of school violence and American schools’ responses to it. School violence has actually been falling steadily throughout the last decade, and yet schools across the country have never been more preoccupied with security.

This climate of fear has created ripe conditions for the imposition of unprecedented restrictions on young people’s rights, dignity, and educational freedoms. In what many call the school-to-prison pipeline, the policing and practices of the juvenile justice system increasingly infiltrate the schoolhouse. These “Zero tolerance” measures push the most vulnerable and academically needy students out of the classroom and into harm’s way.

Investigative reporter Annette Fuentes visits schools across America and finds metal detectors and drug tests for aspirin, police profiling of students with no records, arbitrary expulsions, teachers carrying guns, increased policing, and all-seeing electronic surveillance. She also reveals the many industries and “experts” who have vested interests in perpetuating the Lockdown High model. Her moving stories will astonish and anger readers, as she makes the case that the public schools of the twenty-first century reflect a society with an unhealthy fixation on crime, security and violence.

Reviews

  • “[The] penetration of prison culture into daily life and particularly schools has been brilliantly traced by US writer Annette Fuentes in Lockdown High
  • “[A] well-argued book ... packed with the anecdotally eye-catching and hard, persuasive data. Fuentes's detailed and daunting investigation ... is a wakeup call.”
  • “Examples of zero-tolerance policies taken to absurd levels are attention-grabbing, but the real story, spelled out [in Lockdown High] with clarity and a touch of anger, is a disturbing one that should concern members of school boards, principals, teachers and parents.”
  • “[A] chilling report ... extremely well-written.”
  • Lockdown High is a wake up call for Americans who care about how schools treat children and young people ... This book is a must read for school boards, school administrators and parents.”
  • “Fuentes’ style is smart and accessible, her material both revelatory and relevant—it’s not only parents who will stay up late reading Lockdown High, but anyone interested in where we are headed.”
  • Lockdown High is a widely accessible overview of the trends in school discipline, surveillance, and policing. As such, Fuentes brings research in the education world to a broad audience and thereby widens the awareness of and potential resistance to the lockdown model.”

Blog

  • Forced Labor and Progress

    Published as part of Verso's Haymarket Series in 1996, Alex Lichtenstein's Twice the Work of Free Labor: The Political Economy of Convict Labor in the New South was the first book-length history of the convict-lease and chain gang systems of penal servitude in the Southern United States. Focusing on Georgia in the years between Reconstruction and the Great Depression, Lichtenstein traces the interwoven development of the region's notoriously brutal carceral forms and it's industrial and commercial expansion. "The postbellum history of Georgia's penal system," Lichenstein writes, "offers a clear illustration of how convict labor helped forge the peculiar New South 'Bourbon' political alliance, by accommodating the labor needs of an emerging class of industrialists without eroding the racial domination essential to planters."

    In the text below, the book's epilogue, Lichtenstein expands on his findings in a broader historical consideration of the relation between coerced labor and economic development.
       


    A Georgia road gang in Rockdale County in 1909, shortly after the state abolished convict leasing. (Vanishing Georgia Collection, Georgia Department of Archives and History).

    “There is no document of civilization that is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” –Walter Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of History”1

    Diverse forms of forced labor have been found in many societies, under many conditions. Slavery and penal labor both existed in the ancient world. Serfdom shaped much of the character of premodern European social relations, and persisted well into the nineteenth century in Eastern Europe and Russia. As European societies shook off the last vestiges of feudalism, forced labor was carried to the New World, in a vast arc encompassing both the highlands and plantations of the Americas. In colonial Africa as well, European domination brought with it forms of coercive labor new to a continent that had long known indigenous slavery; and labor relations in industrialized South Africa under apartheid were clearly shaped by colonial strategies of labor extraction up until yesterday. Finally, Stalin's Gulag, and the Nazi labor and extermination camps, stand as horrific examples of forced labor in the modern world.

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  • Fight Trump: Stop Deportations By Any Means


    Protesters blockade Vancouver International Airport to prevent deportation of Lalibar Singh, December 2007. via No One is Illegal Vancouver

    Things are often clearer from the outside. I currently live in Mexico, where the stakes of a Trump presidency are so obvious that his unexpected victory has provoked the worst collapse in the peso in nearly a decade. Here, the left-wing daily La Jornada recently put things as clearly as they need to be put: “There is a difference between legal and legitimate,” and the outpouring of street protests that greeted Trump’s election have made this difference perfectly legible. Just because Trump was legally elected doesn’t mean we need to accept his presidency — and much less his racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic ideas — as legitimate.

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  • Five Book Plan: Carceral Geography

    Brett Story's film The Prison in Twelve Landscapes depicts the variety of ways in which incarceration and criminal punishment shape the American landscape, both urban and rural — without ever showing a penetentiary. It begins its New York theatrical run on November 4th at Anthology Film Archives.

    Below, Story recommends five books on carceral geography: an approach to analyzing incarceration and policing in spatial terms, drawing from the discipline of human geography. 


    From The Prison in 12 Landscapes 

    1. Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis and Opposition in Globalizing California by Ruth Wilson Gilmore (University of California Press, 2007)

    Regardless of your interest in space or place, if you read only one book to help make sense of mass incarceration, it should be this one.

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Other books by Annette Fuentes

  • 9781844674077_lockdown_high-max_141

    Lockdown High

    School violence has fallen steadily for twenty years. Yet in schools throughout the United States, Annette Fuentes finds metal detectors and drug...

    20 posts