Over the past few months, New York City’s “school-to-prison pipeline” got a surge of attention. It started in May, with a state report that concluded that “the overwhelming majority of school-related suspensions, summonses and arrests are for minor misbehavior, behavior that occurs on a daily basis in most schools.” Then came a New York Times editorial, which noted that “by criminalizing routine disciplinary problems, they have damaged the lives of many children by making them more likely to drop out and entangling them, sometimes permanently, in the criminal justice system.” An MSNBC special segment on “How ‘horseplay’ puts kids in jail” followed soon after.
That’s the backdrop for the most recent release of city school related crime numbers: according to the New York Civil Liberties Union’s count, safety agents arrests dropped by more than a third over the past year.
The decrease hasn’t made a dent in the racial disparities. More than 90 percent of kids arrested in school are still black or hispanic, which combine to make up 70 percent of the city’s public school population.
The improvement also tended to wane down over the course of the year. The stretch from April to June 2013 had less than a five percent dip in arrests compared to the previous year.
But the numbers do reflect a school system that is increasingly safer. As the Daily News reported, violent crime in city schools was down 28 percent last year and reports of major felonies were down 14 percent.