New Britain Looks To Cut Student Arrest Rates

Thursday, Feb 27, 2014  |  Updated 6:40 PM EDT
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New Britain Looks To Cut Student Arrest Rates

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With a per capita arrest rate more than three times the state's per capita arrest rate in schools, New Britain has a $30,000 state grant from the "Right Response" program, to get the public schools and police to collaborate on the "right response" to misbehaving students.

"What's important here," Police Chief James Wardwell told the Common Council Wednesday night, "is identifying some of these kids before they get to the level of committing a crime.  This isn't about not arresting folks that commit crimes.  This is about intervening early before they get to that level."

Edie Joseph has studied arrests of students statewide over recent years for Connecticut Voices for Children.  The number has declined and she's hoping the trend will continue.

"About one in ten arrests were for behaviors that likely could have been handled in the classroom," Joseph said, "so these are behaviors like skipping class, insubordination, or cellphone use."

Monday she testified to state legislators, in support of a bill to get schools and police to collaborate to respond to students, just as New Britain is to see.

"Students who are arrested are more likely to drop out of school, more likely to enter into the juvenile justice system, and we know that when students are in the juvenile justice system, they're likely to have a harder time with employment, and to have decreased wages throughout their whole lives," Joseph said.

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