Issue Brief: Misdemeanor Diversion Program
The Youth Justice Project works to support innovative partnerships and programs that keep youth out of the court system. In North Carolina, an example of this is our work with pre-arrest Misdemeanor Diversion Programs (MDPs). MDPs are diversion programs for 16- and 17-year olds that operate pre-arrest and pre-charge, before a child has to face all of the pitfalls of entering the adult criminal system.
The need for pre-arrest MDPs is due to the fact that, in North Carolina, all 16- and 17-year olds are automatically treated as adults in the criminal system with no opportunity to enter the juvenile justice system. This is the case regardless of the severity of the offense or the individual circumstances of the incident. Unfortunately, this means that every year, thousands of North Carolina youth are referred to the adult criminal system for first-time, low-level offenses. Once in the adult system, youth face many direct and indirect consequences that impede their access to education, employment, and housing and may ultimately harm their ability to be a productive member of society.
While changing the law to include more 16- and 17-year olds in the juvenile system is a clear long-term solution to addressing this problem, an interim solution has been the establishment of pre-arrest MDPs by communities concerned about the overcriminalization of young people. Learn more about MDPs by reading our MDP Issue Brief.
Resource: Racial Equity Report Cards
The Racial Equity Report Cards use publically available data to provide a snapshot of the racial disproportionalities that exist in a community’s public education and juvenile justice systems. While not exhaustive, the information in the Report Cards is intended to help communities identify racial disproportionalities and disparities in their youth-serving institutions so they can begin to determine the causes and develop solutions that address racial inequity.
To find your community’s Report Card, and for additional support and resources, visit our Racial Equity Report Card page. For an overview of the Report Cards, including some tips on how to use them, check out our blog post here.
New Handout: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A Review of North Carolina’s 2014-2015 School Discipline Data Report
Each year, the NC State Board of Education reports selected school discipline data to the General Assembly. Although not comprehensive, the annual school discipline data report allows tracking of discipline trends across the state.
The 2014-2015 Report reveals that, in almost every category, the use of exclusionary and punitive school discipline has increased since the 2013-2014 school year, reversing a seven-year downward trend. This handout provides a snapshot of the most important takeaways from the 2014-2015 Report and concludes that continued advocacy is needed to address the increased use of harmful and discriminatory school discipline practices.
Find the two-page handout here.
Progress toward fairer and more productive school discipline is clearly being made. However, one aspect of school discipline has gone largely overlooked: alternative learning programs (ALPs). Alternative Education in North Carolina — the latest issue brief from the Youth Justice Project — aims to change that.
Understanding alternative learning programs (ALPs) and their effectiveness is essential because over 10,000 North Carolina students are placed in ALPs each year, costing taxpayers millions of dollars annually. Additionally, ALPs successfully fulfilling their rehabilitative purpose impacts school climate and safety for all students.
Alternative Education in North Carolina provides background information on ALPs in North Carolina; summarizes publicly available data on ALPs, including demographic, academic achievement, discipline, and safety data for the 2013-14 school year; and makes recommendations for further study of ALPs in North Carolina. The appendix of the report summarizes important research on the characteristics of high-quality ALPs.
Read the full issue brief here.
North Carolina law requires the State Board of Education (SBE) to report, by March 15 of each year, on the numbers of students who have been subjected to corporal punishment, suspension, expulsion, reassignment for disciplinary purposes, or provided alternative education services.
The 2013-14 Report shows that good progress in reducing suspension was made but too many students – especially Black students and students with disabilities – were still pushed out of school. The primary purpose of this issue brief is to summarize the most important highlights from the 2013-14 Report. This issue brief concludes with a call for a bold, comprehensive approach to school discipline reform.
Find the full issue brief here.
In 2013, 32,091 juvenile court complaints were filed against 15,683 youth ages 6 to 15. For these young people and their parents/guardians, the juvenile court process can be confusing and frustrating, and they are not provided with the tools to achieve the best possible outcome. So, YJNC developed, with the help of practitioners and experts, a guide for youth involved in delinquency court and their parents/ guardians that includes:
- a glossary of key terms;
- an overview of the entire process from the filing of a complaint through post-disposition;
- tips and “know your rights” information for youth and parents/guardians;
- lists of resources; and
- organizational tools.
Find the full guide here.
Report: “An Analysis of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Annual Report of Suspensions & Expulsions in 2012-13“
In April 2014, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released its Annual Report on Suspensions and Expulsions for the 2012-13 school year. The Report provides an overview of the use of short-term suspensions, long- term suspensions, expulsions, and alternative learning program (ALP) placements in North Carolina’s traditional public schools and its charter schools.
Fortunately, North Carolina schools, on the whole, are making progress in reducing out-of-school suspensions and ALP placements. Yet suspension rates remain too high and racial disparities persist. Comprehensive school discipline reform is urgently needed, and data are one of the keys to progress. Lawmakers, policymakers, educators, advocates, and other stakeholders need timely, accurate, and complete data in order to identify areas of need and best practices to replicate.
YJNC’s new report – An Analysis of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Annual Report of Suspensions & Expulsions in 2012-13 – provides background and key findings from DPI’s report, as well as crucial recommendations for improving school discipline data collection and publication.
Documentary: “North Carolina’s School to Prison Pipeline”
“North Carolina’s School to Prison Pipeline” is a short video produced by students from the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies. It is a vivid portrayal of the devastating effects of laws, policies, and practices that push youth out of school and into the juvenile and criminal systems. YJNC premiered the film on January 23, 2014 to a 200+ member crowd at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. It is free to use and we encourage individuals and groups to share it with the community and use the accompanying toolkit.