How do school resource officers contribute to the school to prison pipeline? That’s the discussion on this week’s PolicyWise podcast (Episode 9) as Nick Jasso, a current UCLA student and a Youth Voice Fellow for Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY) join hosts Demitria Wack and Michael Wiafe.
“The role of a school resource officer is to protect the school and to increase relationships with the community,” said Jasso. “Is that happening? No.”
Jasso, a formerly incarcerated student with both parents involved in the criminal justice system, grew up in San Mateo. “People like me, who are exhibiting trauma, instead of receiving counseling are getting arrested or meeting with police officers,” said Jasso.
Jasso added, like many black and brown school-age boys, he became a target of his school’s resource officers. He advocates that funding would be better spent on school counselors who could work with disadvantaged youth to determine the best path forward. Instead, many of these children are punished, possibly incarcerated and put on a path to be involved in the criminal justice system for the rest of their lives.
In his work with FLY, Jasso talks to youth about their experiences and is developing a speaking workshop for youth to advocate for themselves. He is also working to reduce the Oakland Police Department’s budget and reinvest those funds back into the community.