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Despite a failed attempt in the U.S. Senate, more than 200 business owners call for federal reforms to strengthen election laws, and the U.S. Supreme Court deals another blow to abortion providers.


President Biden gets cheers and jeers as he marks his first year in the White House, the Jan. 6 committee wants to hear from Ivanka Trump, and the Supreme Court rejects another challenge to the Texas abortion law.


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Report: COVID Funds Could Help Close School-to-Prison Pipeline


Tuesday, October 5, 2021   

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- Federal school funding in response to the global pandemic, totaling nearly $190 billion, could help districts in Wyoming and across the nation close the so-called school-to-prison pipeline and keep students on track for future success, according to a new report.

Donna Sheen, director of the Wyoming Children's Law Center, said for too long, Wyoming's solution when kids act out has been to put them in detention or jail, assuming the experience will force them to straighten up their act.

"Well, it turns out that that isn't a good strategy," Sheen observed. "In fact, we know now that using those kinds of 'scared straight' tactics actually increases the likelihood that a youth is going to continue committing crimes."

The pandemic exacerbated mental-health problems and interrupted healthy adolescent development, factors likely to result in increased behavior and attendance problems at school, according to the Sentencing Project's Back to School Action Guide.

The report's recommendations include reducing arrests at school by removing school resource officers, a move recently made by the Natrona County School District.

Restorative justice, where kids make amends with victims after hearing first hand about the harm they caused, can also put kids on a path to be contributing community members.

Nate Balis, director of the juvenile justice strategy group for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said federal stimulus funding offers an unprecedented chance to launch services outside of law enforcement to help vulnerable children.

"There's opportunities for funding that have never been there before," Balis argued. "Where we can support young people and their families through tutoring and mentoring or from community programs that may not exist in those districts right now."

Sheen believes teens should not be pushed into the criminal-justice system for acting out or other normal adolescent behaviors. She contended it is on entire communities to identify students at risk, and give them opportunities to develop and contribute in positive ways.

"In addition to the ABCs at school, we also have to teach how to be a good member of the community, how to support each other, how to get your own emotional needs met in an appropriate way," Sheen concluded.

Disclosure: Annie E Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Education, Juvenile Justice, and Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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