cover image Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse

Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse

Annette Fuentes. Verso, $26.95 (210p) ISBN 978-1-84467-681-1

In this well-argued book, Fuentes, a journalist with a special interest in children's issues, sums up the "slippery slope" from the school to the jailhouse: "If yesterday's prank got a slap on the wrist, today those wrists could be slapped with handcuffs." Her book is packed with the anecdotally eye-catching and hard, persuasive data ("African-American students were 17 percent of the entire public school population, but account for 34 percent of all out-of-school suspensions and 30 percent of expulsions"). She reviews the legislative history (e.g., Safe and Gun Free School Act, 1994) that buttresses these developments and the "security industry" that profits from it, and she concludes with an assessment of "alternative paths to safe schools." The proper education of children, her book warns, is not promoted when "[h]orseplay on the playground or a shove in the hallway is no longer just youthful shenanigans [but] disorderly conduct and assault." Fuentes's detailed and daunting investigation of the "lockdown" philosophy and practices as "the criminal justice model" that shapes security and discipline in our schools is a wakeup call. (May)