NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Remember when acting out at school would get you detention? Now, state leaders say the same actions are landing to many Texas children in front of judges.
Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson says schools across the state are putting kids in the court system far too early. “An estimated 300,00 misdemeanor tickets are issued in our state schools each year,” the judge said. “We are criminalizing our children for non-violent offenses.”
Jefferson said legislators, educators, judges and law enforcement officials should work together to help curb the child misbehavior. He suggests that adults, “Promote good behavior, maintain the safety of our students, increase graduation rates, decrease exposure by students to the court system and refer students to proper community and mental health resources when needed.”
So readily handing out citations forces children to go to court and according to Justice Jefferson makes it more difficult for students to turn their life around. “Students receiving these tickets are stigmatized. They often miss class or drop out of school altogether,” he said. “We must keep our children in school and out of our courts to give them the opportunity to follow a path of success, not a path toward prison.”
There are currently several Texas Senate bills filed that focus on the issue. Senate bill 393 calls for schools to employ case mangers to weed out minor offenses against juveniles.
Another bill, SB 394, is pushing to seal all files related to children convicted of or receiving deferred disposition for misdemeanor violations, if they have satisfied the judgment.
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