The Dangers of Police in Schools

Imagine being corralled into school by security guards and having to wait in line to go through a metal detector before you can enter the building. Imagine being patted down for guns or weapons, being told what you can wear and say, and having your every action watched. Unfortunately, this is a typical experience for many students, sometimes beginning as early as elementary school.

In response to school shootings that occurred in the mid-1950s, schools started stationing school resources officers (SRO’s) and other sworn law enforcement in schools. The term SRO refers to a certified peace officer with arrest authority employed by local or county law enforcement agencies and assigned to a particular school or schools. School policing programs were seen as a way to combat the problem of school shootings, but instead have led to an increase in the criminalization of typical adolescent behavior and an increase in referrals to law enforcement. These referrals, which include school-related arrest and issuance of citations and tickets for minor infractions, result in records available to potential employers, colleges, and immigration authorities. What might have warranted a trip to the principal’s office in the past now has the potential to negatively impact a student’s educational opportunities, job prospects, housing, voting rights, and his or her ability to receive public benefits. My project will look at the history of SRO’s, explore the negative consequences that SRO’s can have on youth, and discuss what should replace policing in schools.

My name is Kylie Boyd, and I am a third-year law student at Santa Clara University School of Law. I grew up in Southern California and spent most days as a child at the beach. I enjoy hiking, running, and traveling. Before coming to law school, I got a B.A. in anthropology and education at American University. During my undergraduate studies, I taught history at both a middle school and a high school in Washington, D.C. The experience opened my eyes to many of the challenges that students face inside and outside the classroom. I decided to come to law school so that I could fight for my students in court on the front lines of the criminal justice system. My focus throughout law school has been criminal justice, and I am pursuing a career as a public defender. I have served as an intern at the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender for several semesters. I have also volunteered for the Fresh Lifeline for Youth (FLY) program, which provides mentorship and training for youth in the criminal justice system. I want to help prevent at-risk youth from entering the juvenile justice system by promoting policy changes that help create a school environment where students feel safe, valued, and supported.


Reimagining Police: a case for Community Engagement Programs in at-risk Neighborhoods.

My name is Yashvardhan Mittal, and I am an international exchange student from India’s National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) University of Law, Hyderabad. I hold a keen interest in the field of public policy and governance. I have previously interned with the Centre for Constitutional Law Policy and Governance (CLPG), New Delhi, India, where my research focus was on the inadequacy of witness protection programs. I believe that the legal framework of a society, is inescapably interlinked to larger public policy questions and the two must be harmonized to achieve any desired social outcome. Despite this, we often find that there is a mismatch between the legal framework we adopt and the desired social result. Over a series of blog posts, I will attempt to understand a similar mismatch between our goal to prevent crime in at-risk neighborhoods, and our solution (i.e. increased policing).

Continue reading “Reimagining Police: a case for Community Engagement Programs in at-risk Neighborhoods.”

Toxic Masculinity as a Criminal Instigator

Hello! I am Mary Clare Molina, an avid runner, creative writer, rugged traveler, Spanish-speaker, and yoga enthusiast. I am a soon-to-be graduate of Santa Clara University School of Law, pursuing a career as a public defender.

Before law school, I studied Sociology and Social Policy & Practice at Tulane University in New Orleans. Through living and studying in a city with so much beauty yet such pronounced inequality, I developed a fierce passion for serving the underserved. I wanted to become a social worker.

During college, I interned for the Orleans Public Defenders Office and a local youth center. I was astonished by the lack of dignity with which the United States treats those who are poor, non-white, or mentally ill. I decided to become a lawyer because I want to represent members of such arbitrarily and unjustly silenced groups.

Last summer, I interned for the San Francisco Public Defenders Office. I grew concerned that the criminal justice system locks people in cages as a “solution” to crime rather than addressing the root causes of crime. I noticed that the vast majority of the clients I worked with were men and began to wonder why so many men fall subject to the misguided priorities of “the system”.

From a young age, boys and girls are socialized into a set of gender-based expectations that shape their behaviors throughout adulthood. Males learn to exhibit masculine ideals such as toughness, stoicism, and dominance over others. They seek ways to prove their masculinity while being deprived of the social connectedness that helps people deal with stress. Some men turn to violence as a means of displaying masculine attributes and dealing with suppressed emotion. Some prisoners have begun to facilitate discussions of feminism as an escape from the cycle of violence.

This series of posts discusses how masculinity contributes to violent crime in the United States. I propose that gender norms be discussed in social and educational settings, particularly among at-risk youth, as a means of violence prevention and intervention. This may increase social connectedness and contribute to understandings of toxic masculinity as needed to reduce violent crime committed by men.

Nationwide Cognitive and Behavioral Training Will Promote Societal Happiness and Decrease Crime

Cognitive and behavioral training programs use a variety of techniques to help people identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behavior. These programs focus on the observable behavior of an individual, and also help the individual become aware of thoughts that may be automatic to them, but are harmful and inaccurate. The person is then taught techniques to question these thoughts, understand how they affect emotions and behavior, and try to replace the harmful and inaccurate thoughts with more beneficial and productive ones.

Cognitive and behavioral training programs have proven to decrease criminal conduct and behavioral problems for individuals with clinically diagnosed behavioral and mental health conditions. These programs also increases productivity and overall happiness for individuals without such conditions. Despite the large amount of evidence documenting its success, limited sectors of the public have access to – or have even heard of – cognitive and behavioral training. Current tools utilized by our criminal justice system, such as policing and incarceration, are costly and arguably ineffective. Low cost and widely applicable tools such as cognitive and behavioral training should be closely examined and implemented by a society looking to decrease crime.

This series of blog posts argue that if cognitive and behavioral training were provided to the general public, it would lead to increased societal happiness and productivity, as well as decreased crime. We will start with an examination of what cognitive and behavioral training programs look like, followed by program outcomes in criminal justice institutions and in the healthcare community. We will also discuss program outcomes in general community settings and in business settings. In these discussions, we will only use the term “therapy” if programs are led by licensed medical professionals. At all other times, we will refer to programs as cognitive and behavioral training, or CB Training.

About the Author

Sharine Xuan is a 3L at Santa Clara Law. Prior to law school, she owned multiple small businesses and worked in corporate America for companies such as Toyota and Wachovia. As part of her mandated corporate training, she attended many years of personal development and leadership trainings with trainers such as Zig Ziglar, John Maxwell, and T. Harv Eker . It is at these trainings that she learned skills such as how to break arrows with her throat (just go for it!) and creative (legal) ways to generate one hundred dollars overnight (think outside the box).

Since entering law school, Sharine has used some of her previous business skills to effectively fundraise and advocate for the establishment of a criminal records expungement clinic at Santa Clara Law, where law students gain practical legal experience by providing criminal record expungement to indigent clients under the supervision of attorneys. Sharine has a passion for social justice and criminal law. She believes that if we ran the government the same way we run businesses, the government would be much more efficient with higher customer (citizen) satisfaction. Providing society with cognitive and behavioral training like she received in corporate America is an example of that.

Access to Health Care Services and Entry into the Criminal Justice System

My name is Dustin Weber and I am a third-year law student at Santa Clara University School of Law. I completed my undergraduate degree in Political Science, with a Pre-Law emphasis, at California State University, East Bay. Prior to coming to law school, I had a career in the coffee industry.

I have a personal stake in the issue of health care access and delivery. I am a Type-1 diabetic (T1D). Management of this disease is interminable, exhausting, and painful. Improper management of the disease leads to a litany of comorbidities, including potentially dangerous physical and mental complications. This disease is cruel and unforgiving. The United States (U.S.) health care system has made management of the disease significantly more difficult. Before passage of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), going directly to law school was a greater challenge for someone with a chronic disease about to age off his parents’ health insurance plan. So, given the importance of health care to an individual’s wellbeing, I will be focusing my writing on health care access and its relationship to entry into the criminal justice system.

Specifically, I will demonstrate how expanding the use of wraparound services to all minors, based on the Wraparound Initiative model, would stem the flow of already disadvantaged populations into the criminal justice system. Generally, wraparound services are those not focused only on treating specific health issues, but services that are more comprehensive and aimed at providing individuals with holistic treatment. I will be unpacking this issue in three parts. In the first part, I will establish the link between insufficient health care access as a child and the increased likelihood of entering the criminal justice system. In the second part, I will discuss how our current system has failed and why the Wraparound Initiative model is ideally suited for slowing entry of individuals into the criminal justice system. In the third part, I will propose how to modify and expand the Wraparound Initiative model so that it can be implemented in communities across the country. 

Small Changes Can’t Fix a Big Problem: The Case for Abolition of the Juvenile Justice System

My name is Emily Branan and I am a second-year law student at Santa Clara University School of Law. I am originally from Pineville, Louisiana. I attended Loyola University New Orleans and majored in journalism. After graduating, I worked at KPLC-TV in Southwest Louisiana as a news producer for the morning newscast, 7News Sunrise. As much as I enjoyed my job, I felt as though I wanted to do more than just write about the bad news. The feeling of wanting to make an actual difference led me to apply to law school. After moving to Santa Clara, I got involved with Fresh Lifelines for Youth to volunteer and try to make a positive impact in my new community. The FLY program trains adults to be Court-Appointed Friends and Advocates for teenagers who are involved in the juvenile justice system and referred to the program by the probation department. I was matched with my mentee in February 2019. Since then, we have spent time together regularly, whether that involved accompanying her to juvenile court or just sharing a good meal together. Hearing her perspective has really opened my eyes to the reality of the juvenile system, its shortcomings and the different obstacles my mentee has had to face in her life. 

Continue reading “Small Changes Can’t Fix a Big Problem: The Case for Abolition of the Juvenile Justice System”

Sense of Stability: Specialized Group Homes and Their Benefits

In this final post, I’m going to begin by stealing a phrase from a former Australian politician and say that this is the post that brings home the bacon; this is the one that pulls the whole game together. In my second post, I talked at length about the particularly bad outcomes in foster care for TGNB youth. In the third post, I described the shortcomings of existing group homes and how legislative reforms may stymie efforts to create a congregate care facility designed specifically to meet the needs of TGNB youth.  In this final post, I will lay out in detail the logistical challenges of—and practical solutions to—the emotional and housing needs of TGNB youth, how specialized group homes are uniquely capable of meeting those needs. Continue reading “Sense of Stability: Specialized Group Homes and Their Benefits”