chapter  7
Educating, Not Criminalizing, Youth of Color
Challenging Neoliberal Agendas and Penal Populism
ByMary Christianakis, Richard Mora
Pages 20

The vast majority of incarcerated adults are people of color, people with mental health issues and drug addiction, people with low levels of educational attainment, and people with a history of unemployment or underemployment. In fact, youth of color, especially African Americans and Latinos, are over-represented at every juncture within the juvenile courts system and receive differential treatment along the way. This chapter argues that the increase in prisons and the policing of schools is rooted in the convergence of neoliberalism, conservatism, and penal populism. Politicians and public servants criminalize minority youth by espousing media-driven, tough-on-crime rhetoric for political gain. Law enforcement and school officials compound the effect by implementing zero-tolerance policies in the name of public safety. Penal populism, or the populist response to crime, criminalizes urban youth of color. Schools throughout the country, especially urban public schools, use a crime-control model to manage students.