Life of the Law: "School Discipline" As the number of law enforcement officers on school campuses has gone up, so have the number of arrests. This month the Obama Administration issued recommendations for alternative forms of discipline -- but as the story of Kyle Thompson demonstrates, in the real world of schools, the issues are tricky.
I grew up in a middle-class, suburban county in New Jersey, but now I'm a twenty-something intern living in a low-income part of Washington, D.C. The realtor euphemism for such neighborhoods is “transitional,” a word that implies ongoing change. This is ironic because I feel that so many of the residents here feel as though things will never change, and will always stay the same. Since moving here, I've already become accustomed to the wail of sirens, the disconcerting, yet reassuring pulse of blue and red light through the heavy bars on my windows.
When we think of policing, we don’t always think about psychology. One is academic; the other, relentlessly real-world. But many police departments, including San Francisco’s, assign patrols based on a psychological theory: The Broken Windows Theory.
It's the early 90s. Young people are watching MTV, their parents Twin Peaks. Maurice Caldwell is 22 years old and lives in the Alemany projects in Bernal Heights, on the same streets where he grew up. He works in an industrial warehouse in Hayward and likes to hang out with his friends.
But, he admits today, he was also a troublemaker. “I wasn't a choir boy,” says Caldwell. “I sold drugs, from time to time.” And, from time to time, he’d come in contact with police.
If you’re convicted of committing a felony in California, you can end up in many kinds of prisons. Steal a lot of money in a Ponzi scheme – you might end up in minimum security. Locked up, but with little supervision. Commit a violent crime, and you could be sent to a medium-security prison, like Folsom. Kill someone, and you could be headed for supermax.