CI: Words and Action Against Youth Incarceration

April 30, 2014 at 6:48 pm by: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Education, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex, What People are Doing to Change the World

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Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

Words and Action Against Youth Incarceration
by nancy a heitzeg

This week we would like to bring your attention a forthcoming publication that may be of interest. With the growing national attention to the school to prison pipeline, it is certainly timely. Due out May 15th :

From Education to Incarceration: Dismantling the School-to-prison Pipeline (Counterpoints: Studies in the Postmodern Theory of Education)

front cover of From Education to Incarcerationeditors, Anthony J., II Nocella, Priya Parmar, David Stovall

This anthology features pieces by Nekima Levy-Pounds, Annette Fuentes, Henry Giroux, Mumia Abu-Jamal, yours truly and more (See Table of Contents). Excerpts from the foreword and afterword respectively:

This book maps in devastating detail the treacherous path constructed by the powerful for the children of formerly enslaved human beings, recent immigrants, first-nation people, and the poor—a path that’s earned the colorful metaphoric phrase “the school to prison pipeline.” A pipeline runs in a single direction, and once entered into the mouth, destiny sweeps everything before it to the bottom; a pipeline offers no exits, no deviations or departures, no way out—unless it fractures. From Education to Incarceration is not focused on prison reform or tinkering with the mechanisms of the pipeline to make it “fairer” or more efficient; it’s aimed, rather, at ripping open the pipeline, upending the assumptions that got us where we are, and then throwing every section of pipe and all the braces and supports into the dustbin of history. (Forward by William Ayers)

Mardia Cooper, “My World”

Most parents, communities, teachers, and principals reject this unfair, castigating, crushing set of policies and practices. Zero tolerance is not inevitable. As this powerfully evocative book shows us, schools, principals, teachers, and communities can opt out, can employ restorative and transformative justice principles for infractions and rule-breaking, and can create school environments that are imaginative, creative, inclusive, challenging, and engaging for all students.

Change requires us to take another path, to dismantle the school to prison pipeline and its lockstep role in the domestic national security state. As we forge more school environments of cooperation and understanding, of listening and participation, equality and innovation, art and humor, the discipline issues will take their (minor) place. Dismantle and create! (Afterword by Bernadine Dohrn)

If you are in the Twin Cities, you are invited to attend  the  Book Release and Signing Party: “From Education to Incarceration: Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline”, 5:30pm to 7:30pm May 21, 2014 at the Brotherhood Inc Offices.

Nationally, join us for the National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth, May 19-25




This should be the poster child for this -> Rick Wershe, better known to the public as "White Boy Rick", is currently serving a life prison sentence in the Michigan Department of Corrections for a single drug possession conviction from January 1988. When he was arrested he was only 17 years old. Newly uncovered evidence proves he was led into the life of being a teenage drug dealer by the federal government. Rick was recruited by a narcotics task force made up by the FBI, DEA, and several Detroit Police Department detectives in 1984 as a 14 year old juvenile, encouraged to drop out of high school and eventually put to work as a paid undercover operative in some of the state's most dangerous criminal organizations for the next three years.
   Following his conviction, he was sentenced under Michigan's ultra-tough "650-Lifer Law", a law erased from the books in 1998, allowing him to be eligible for parole.In the three times before the parole board in the last decade, he's been rejected every time. As of 2012, he was the only minor sentenced under that law in the whole Michigan prison system that remains behind bars. He is also the only person in the country convicted as a minor for a non violent crime facing the prospect of serving a life sentence.
   In the 25 years Rick has been incarcerated, he has cooperated with law enforcement extensively. Prosecutors have said that without his help, the largest police corruption case in Detroit's history would not have been possible. Some of the people ending up being convicted included members of Coleman Young's family.
   Rick's situation doesn't feel right in many ways. This site will hopefully educate people who are unfamiliar with his situation , however isn't intended for "fans" to glamorize or endorse his behavior.
   Once a boy who made a mistake, Rick is now simply a man in his mid-40's in search of a second chance.

This is a letter from a retired Detroit police officer to the Michigan Parole Board in June, 2012.  ->

This is a letter to the Michigan Parole Board from a former FBI agent who worked directly with Rick Wershe when he was working undercover for them and the Detroit Police Department. He is someone who knows the truth and is not afraid to speak up. ->


Such an important book - congratulations, Nancy and all contributors. And thanks to everyone who is a part of this National Week of Action.