School To Prison Pipeline: Missouri Will Now Charge Students With Felonies For Fighting

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Parents and community groups say the new rule will only broaden the school to prison pipeline epidemic.

The Missouri community is taking a stand to speak out against a new state statute that many believe will advances the "school to prison pipeline."

Residents in the state are rightfully in opposition to the new statewide law, that will provide for students involved in school fights to face possible felony charges instead of misdemeanors.

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According to Think Progress, the statute will aim to no longer treat fights in schools or aboard school buses as minor offenses, regardless of the age of the student(s) involved. Students who participate in fights will now be arrested by school security officers and charged with a Class E Felony.

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The "school to prison pipeline" references the way in which children and teens -- predominantly of color -- are exposed to the criminal justice system at an early age after being criminalized for their behavior in school, rather than educated or rehabilitated to prevent future run-ins with the law.

Nationwide studies have shown that Black children are disproportionately targeted by the school-to-prison-pipeline epidemic, as instructors begin viewing students of color as more dangerous than white students as early as preschool, which ultimately subjects them to harsher punishments.

Under the new Missouri statute, many parents worry that students involved in fights at school will be at risk for establishing criminal records before they can even fully grasp what it means to have a criminal record. 

The statute is set to take effect in the state beginning January 1, 2017.

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