Chicago students in many of the city’s public schools are being pushed out.
“We really need to stop thinking about school dropout, and start thinking about school push out,” said Elena Quintana, executive director of the Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice.
“When we kick people out, we basically leave them with very few options and they end up getting squeezed into the criminal justice system,” she said.
Quintana spoke during the panel, “Violence and Criminal Justice: What needs Fixing?” held at Columbia College Chicago, 1104 S. Wabash Ave., and voiced concerns about changes that need to happen to the criminal justice system in Chicago.
One speaker was Father David Kelly, a Catholic priest in the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.
“I’m all for closing juvenile detention centers, but let’s put that money into the community so we have mental health centers, adequate school systems and the resources we know we need within these communities,” said Kelly.
Sara Balgoyen, executive director of the Illinois Balanced and Restorative Justice (IBARJ), focused on the importance of working with students in the school systems at the panel.
“It’s become easy for teacher and principals and administrators to get ‘the bad kids’ out, and that’s not helping anybody in society,” said Balgoyen.
She also described some of the steps that can help with community students.
“Fenger High School, in the South Side now has safe places and peace circle where kids can go if there is some conflict or just want to talk about a larger issue within the community,” Balgoyen said.
Cameron Frazier, a youth counselor at the Becoming a Man (B.A.M.) Youth Guidance, said the problem is systematic.
“The only rights of passage that exists in America right now, that is organized, is the Juvenile delinquent system,” said Fraizer. “It means that there is a pipeline from school, to prison, to the detention center.”
Frazier expressed that many people who are sent to juvenile prison, come out not fully understanding what it is to be an adult.
“You learn what it is to be a man in there, but you don’t know what a man is out here. So when you come out, how do you behave if you’ve never been habituated,” said Fraizer.