Learn & Advocate: Interrupting the Cradle to Prison Pipeline

February 28, 2020

by Connie Hunter, United Methodist Women Social Action Coordinator, California-Nevada Conference

Have you heard that the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world? It’s true.

Maybe you know that the number of people incarcerated in the US has skyrocketed in the past 40 years, from around 400,000 to over 2,000,000 today. This is troubling. But when you learn that the number of women in prison has been growing twice as rapidly as that of men since 1980; that people of color represent 60% of the prison population; that African American male students are three times more likely than white students to be suspended and expelled and for African American female students it is six times more likely, you have got to ask, “What is going on?”

Marian Wright Edelman, founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, coined the phrase ‘school to prison pipeline’ to name the policies and practices that are funneling children from school to incarceration. Recently, she has modified the phrase to ‘cradle to prison pipeline’ because of the racial disparities in health care outcomes that disadvantage children of color from birth.

On Saturday, April 25th at the Sacramento Japanese UMC, the California-Nevada Conference United Methodist Women are hosting an event, ‘Interrupting the Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline’, to explore what is going on, how are children being diverted from school into the prison pipeline, who is in prison, what factors are contributing to the disproportionate representation of people of color in prison and what can we, as people of faith, do about it?

Jessica Nowlan, Executive Director of Young Women’s Freedom Center, will be the keynote speaker. She is where she is today because the Young Women’s Freedom Center was there when she was a homeless mother of three, escaping domestic violence and burdened with a history of incarceration.

Our afternoon workshops will address replacing zero tolerance policies in schools with restorative practices; criminalization of girls/women; the role of a ‘black parallel school board’ and how to establish one in your school district; and mass incarceration.

All people, men, women, youth, young adults are welcome and encouraged to join us for the day and then return home equipped to make changes in your school district, your local community and beyond.

Childcare will be provided. Scholarships are available.

Click here for more information and to register.