Advocates Support Decrease In School Arrests After Newtown

Children’s advocates in Connecticut are concerned that an increase in police presence after the Newtown school massacre may lead to more arrests, just as the state has moved towards finding alternative punishments. “It is possible for a police officer to bring a positive presence and resources to schools. However, this kind of presence often comes with the unintended consequences of student arrests,” said Lara Herscovitch, deputy director of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance. Connecticut, like other states, saw school arrests rise when they adopted “zero tolerance” polices around the year 2000. But recently, the alliance, the state judicial department and other agencies have been working to reduce arrests, with pilot programs in place in Manchester, Windham and Stamford.

Intervention Programs Result In Fewer Student Arrests

In the 2010-11 school year, boys were twice as likely to be arrested as girls — and students in the state’s poorest school districts, such as Hartford and New Haven, were more likely to be arrested than those from the wealthiest districts, according to a report compiled by the Juvenile Justice Alliance. Special education students were nearly three times as likely to be arrested as other students, according to the report. And most students were arrested for minor offenses – such as smoking cigarettes, swearing or hallway scuffles. In the report — Adult Decisions: Connecticut Rethinks Juvenile Arrests the Manchester police chief said he was “frustrated by the number of fights his officers were breaking up at Manchester High School. ‘’  He estimated that about 6 percent of the students were habitually getting into serious trouble.