From Schoolhouse to Courthouse

  Disrupting class used to land kids in the principal’s office or detention.  In Texas, however, more and more children are facing criminal prosecution, criminal records and hefty fines for acting out in school. It is estimated that at least 275,000 non-traffic tickets are issued to kids in Texas each year.  The vast majority of these tickets are commonly linked to minor school-related misbehavior.  Foul language, minor fights, missing school or disrupting class results in Class C misdemeanor tickets and a trip to court for thousands of Texas kids each year. The 1980s and 1990s saw a wave of "get tough on crime" laws and zero tolerance policies.  Fear of the juvenile predator resonated with families across the nation after incidents like Columbine, resulting in the outsourcing of school discipline where adult courts became the new detention hall. The increase of ticketing in schools coincides with a growth of school-based policing.  In fact, campus policing is the fastest growing area of law enforcement in the state.  Campus police officers, also known as School Resource Officers, are increasingly tasked with handling student misbehavior. Schools are funneling children to adult courts where they are not afforded several protections that they would receive in juvenile court.  In municipal court, there is no requirement for prosecutor review.  While poor kids are entitled to counsel in juvenile court, no similar entitlement exists in adult...

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