The Educational Foundations Program at NEIU invites you and your students to the 2019 NEIU Student Forum. The title of this year’s conference is Resisting the Carceral State: Freedom, Self-Determination, and Justice in Education. The focus is on three areas withing the carceral state: prisons, the criminalization of immigration (crimigration), and the school-to-prison nexus.

The conference will be on March 30th, 2019 from 8:30 am to 3 pm. The conference is free for all NEIU and CPS students and teachers, and only $10 for everyone else (covers lunch). Registration is required.

Why the carceral state? Below are some quick facts about the problem of mass incarceration in the US and how schools contribute to this problem:

US Incarceration in Context: The Prison Industrial Complex

Crimigration: The Criminalization of Immigration

  • 19,000 people are in federal prison for violating federal immigration laws. Another 33,000 are civilly detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in detention centers that have contracts with ICE (
  • “Men, women, and children apprehended by CBP or ICE are normally placed in removal proceedings and may be detained in one of the more than 200 jails and detention centers that make up ICE’s detention system. Many of the immigrants detained in ICE’s nominally civil system are held in county and local jails that contract with ICE to detain immigrants. The rest are held in dedicated immigration detention facilities run by ICE or contracted to private prison corporations, including family detention centers that hold mothers and children. ICE’s detention system is built and operated on a correctional model, in direct conflict with the civil nature of immigration detention” (
  • More than ½ a million children in the US (1 in 5 children) are being raised by extended family members due to the deportation of a parent(s). These households face significant challenges due to trauma from family separation, difficulties accessing social services (e.g. Medicaid and food stamps), and/or a fear of applying for these services because caregivers themselves may be deported (

The School to Prison Nexus:

  • On any given day, 50,000 youth can be found in detention facilities. Most youth in detention centers are there for non-violent offenses (
  • Schools have been feeding the criminal legal system through a combination of policies and practices that emerged in the 1990’s intended to protect students from incidents like mass shootings (Columbine), but make students make students less safe by policing them and criminalizing their behavior. Consider that in 2012, 92,000 students were arrested in schools. A good majority of student arrests were for misdemeanors like talking back to a teacher, disrupting class, fighting and cutting class (
  • According to the American Bar Association, “Students of color (African-American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American) with disabilities, or LGBTQ— are disproportionately over-or incorrectly categorized in special education, are disciplined more harshly, including referral to law enforcement for minimal misbehavior, achieve at lower levels, and eventually drop or are pushed out of school, often into juvenile justice facilities and prisons—a pattern now commonly referred to as the School-to-Prison Pipeline (StPP)” (

Given these statistics, the NEIU Student Forum, aims to develop participants understandings about the problem of mass incarceration and how they can make a difference. Specifically:

  1. How might you be able to better help identify and meet the needs of a young person who has a parent in detention?
  2. How might you recognize students who fear deportation, or who are experiencing trauma due to family separation or fear of separation?
  3. How might you advocate and work in solidarity with young people to disrupt the systems that currently police and surveil young people?
  4. How might educators help students understand the issue of mass incarceration, the prison industrial complex, detention and family separations through curricula that infuses math, history, social studies, English, language arts?
  5. Lastly, how might current and practicing educators critically reflect on their school’s structures, policies and practices related to mass incarceration and the school to prison nexus?

The conference organizers aim to provide professional development on the carceral state as well as resources to translate participants’ understandings into curricula, teaching approaches and school policies and practices. CPDU’s are available for teachers.