The Escambia County Youth Justice Coalition held its monthly organizational meeting on Monday March 10th at Englewood Missionary Baptist Church with a full agenda for the remainder of March. The main focus of the meeting was focused on raising the profile of its mission to advocate for juvenile justice reform in the Escambia County school system by holding a Town Hall Meeting
on this Saturday March 15th at 12 noon in the First United Methodist Church at 6 East Wright Street. This is the church where the annual MLK Birthday Celebration is held.
The membership of the Youth Justice Coalition includes a comprehensive membership base of progressives, conservatives, Blacks, Whites, non-profits, and faith-based representatives which support an alternative system to arresting children and placing them in incarceration. For example, Escambia County has a 24% higher arrest rate than the Florida state average, 1 out of 5 Escambia students are suspended from school, and 73% of school arrests are students arrested for the first time! No wonder that the Town Hall Meeting’s theme is “PUSH BACK AGAINST SCHOOL PUSH OUT”! Attendees at the meeting at Englewood Church volunteered to spread the word about the Town Hall Meeting on Saturday March 15th and to recruit the adults to bring students for their input on how to make changes in the schools.
A previous presentation at a Town Hall Meeting in October 2013 depicted the following:
- Total in-school suspensions are up and African-American suspensions are up while White students have gone down.
- Out of schools suspensions for African-Americans are three times more likely than White or Hispanic students
- African-American students are repeated in a grade at twice the rate of White and Hispanic students.
- Escambia County School District’s graduation rate of 62.1% is below the State of Florida (74.5%) and the national (78.2%) average.
- Research on the economic impact of dropouts shows they earn $7, 840 less each year.
- Escambia County School District’s at school arrest rate (20%) is above the State of Florida average (14%).
- In Escambia County Schools 72% of school arrests were for misdemeanors.
It is important to put Escambia’s juvenile prison commitments in a national and international perspective: The U.S. leads the world with a per capita incarceration rate of 336 per 100,000 youth, and Florida is virtually tied with California as the juvenile incarceration “leader” in the U.S. This makes Escambia’s shameful juvenile prison commitment rate not only the leader in the state, but the U.S. and world.