Missouri lawmakers are under fire from civil rights groups over a new statute that makes some student fights a felony, the Huffington Post reports.
Several school districts notified parents that the new law takes effect on New Year’s Day. It treats school fights as a class E felony, which could land students in prison for up to four years. Prior to that, most fights were treated as misdemeanors.
This New Missouri Law Is About to Make the School-to-Prison Pipeline Much Worse https://t.co/oh1JCVzJx3
— Atlanta Black Star (@ATLBlackStar) December 28, 2016
State Rep. Elijah Haahr is trying to assuage concerns, saying that many people are misinterpreting the law. He said existing laws already permit authorities to charge students with a felony for injuring another student in a school brawl.
For those who heard that MO kids in school fights will be charged w/ a felony starting in January, read this:https://t.co/M564UKGZu0#MoLeg
— Elijah Haahr (@supportelijah) December 23, 2016
Under the new measure, Haahr said, there’s a new classification and higher fines.
His explanation, however, does not calm fears about how the statute will be enforced. Missouri has one of the highest rates of disproportionately punishing students of color. They are concerned that the measure will perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline.
A new law in Missouri will make school fights felonies. This is a horrifying development.https://t.co/pTdZEe14r3
— Calvin (@calvinstowell) December 22, 2016
School-to-Prison-Pipeline expands in MO – students as young as 5 can be charged w/ felonies for fighting in school. https://t.co/mnqYakpHGv
— ACLU of Missouri (@aclu_mo) December 23, 2016
“If the past is any indicator, I think it’s fair to say that based on documented research we can presume that this law will be unfairly, improperly and disproportionately used against student of color, most often Black males,” Jeffrey Mittman, director of the Missouri American Civil Liberties Union, told The Post.
SOURCE: Huffington Post
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