Educate, Don’t Incarcerate: A Youth-Led Campaign to Invest in Healing Young People


81% of school arrests in CPS from 2013-2014 were for non-serious offenses, many of which would be considered non-arrestable outside of a school building. In 2014, 96% of students arrested inside a CPS school were Black or Latino.

Every year, thousands of K-12 students in Illinois, mostly Black or Latino, are arrested for minor offenses that do not threaten public safety. Documented examples of offenses that Illinois students have been arrested for include writing their names on a desk, putting their head down and not participating in class, walking past a fight and having a tantrum caused by separation anxiety and depression.

These unnecessary arrests have terrible consequences:
• A first-time arrest doubles the odds that a student will drop out of school;
• A first-time court appearance quadruples the odds that a student will drop out;
• Once a student drops out, they are far more likely to end up in the criminal justice system;
• After an arrest, a student can face major obstacles when applying for college, financial aid, the military, and jobs.

Illinois must eliminate unnecessary school-based arrests and promote the use of developmentally appropriate disciplinary alternatives that protect school safety, raise academic achievement and save taxpayer dollars.

Illinois can shift resources away from police in school programs that disproportionally arrest students of color for minor infractions, towards supports that constructively and compassionately address student behavioral issues (often as a result of trauma) effectively. To achieve this, CU has partnered with Senator Daniel Biss and Representative Emmanuel Chris Welch to introduce the “Eliminating the Unnecessary Arrest of K-12 Students” Act.


1. Provide clear guidelines for schools and law enforcement to use arrest only as a last resort.
2. Limits school-based arrests to felony offenses and serious, violent misdemeanors.
3. Encourage schools to re-allocate resources toward evidence-based and promising practices that promote school safety and healthy learning environments, such as:
• restorative justice programs
• school psychologists, social workers, and other mental and behavioral health specialists
• drug and alcohol treatment services
• wraparound services for youth
• training for school staff on conflict resolution techniques and other disciplinary alternatives.

*The “Eliminating The Unnecessary Arrests of K-12 Students” Act does not limit the rights and duties of teachers, school administrators, other school district employees, and law enforcement officers from reporting and responding to criminal conduct by any individual who is not a student under the school district’s jurisdiction.

Youth from across the city through Communities United, VOYCE and Right On Justice are building a coalition of youth-led community organizations, faith based institutions, policy and legal groups, restorative justice practitioners, and other allies to advance this reform statewide.

What The Data Says: Police in Schools

Chicago Public Schools pays millions per year to have police officers placed in high schools, primarily in neighborhoods where young people display high levels of behavioral issues due to poverty and trauma.
The facts:

• Between 2013-2014 nearly 30 Black youth were arrested for every one white juvenile in a CPS building
• In 2014, 96% of students arrested inside a CPS school were Black or Latino
• 81% of these arrests were for non-serious misdemeanor offenses, many of which would be considered non-arrestable outside of a school building


For more information about these efforts, contact via email, or call
VOYCE at 773-583-1387.

For more information, or to get involved, contact VOYCE Coordinator Jose Sanchez at
via email, or call Communities United at 773-583-1387.

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