The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Shawn Jain


ACLU Submits Letter to Vice President Biden on Post-Newtown Response

Solutions to gun violence needed to ensure that Americans' civil rights and liberties are protected


Any proposals that would put more police in schools must be rejected, the American Civil Liberties Union urged Vice President Biden.

The ACLU submitted a letter to the Vice President in response to his call for outside groups to provide input on potential federal action to address gun violence following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last month.

"As a mother, I'm especially attuned to the need to protect children from gun violence, but over-policing is not the solution" said Laura Murphy, Director of ACLU's Washington Legislative Office. "When police are put in schools, learning environments can be transformed into sites of law enforcement. The results can be devastating, particularly for students of color and those with disabilities, who we know are disproportionately pushed out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems."

In its letter, the ACLU reiterated recommendations from a statement submitted to a Senate committee late last year in which it called on Congress and the Obama Administration to support positive alternatives to punitive and exclusionary school discipline practices that plague many classrooms around the country.

"While well-meaning policymakers might assume that adding more police, metal detectors and surveillance necessarily makes students safer, experience demonstrates otherwise," said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU senior legislative counsel. "In practice, most school police spend a significant portion of their time responding to minor, nonviolent infractions rather than behaviors that seriously threaten school safety. Criminalizing minor misbehavior that should be handled by teachers or school administrators has serious consequences for kids and only contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline."

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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