Healthcatraz: The Changing Landscape of School Security

Jenephyr James, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Security cameras, wire fences, drug dogs, metal detectors, random searchers, mirrors, ID cards...a description of a post 9/11 airport or a prison? Maybe. But more precisely this is a description of the current and future trends in crime prevention for junior and senior high schools. Why are schools turning more into prisons than educational facilities? I propose that as a result of recent mass schools shootings, America's schools are becoming increasingly more restricted and militarized to try and prevent future incidents. This paper will analyze the issues surrounding this recent increase in school security by examining the system that influences the school system and how schools have changed policies in response to these tragedies. First, I will examine the overarching criminal justice system with its biases and how it attempts to prevent and punish crime. Next I will explore the school shootings that have created this shift in policy within schools and how this mirrors the overall system. As a conclusion, I will discuss how these new measures can cause further alienation, violence and distrust among youth and how there are better approaches to the problem of school shootings rather than turning our schools into mini-prisons.

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Updated 05/20/2006