Civil Liberties Forum Dissects School-to-Prison Pipeline

OGDEN, Utah – Moving from learning in school to serving time behind bars is a troubling trend today’s youth face in the “school-to-prison pipeline.” 

The Weber State University American Democracy Project, along with the support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Utah, will discuss the school-to-prison pipeline at the third annual Civil Liberties Forum in the Shepherd Union Wildcat Theater, April 3 at 10:30 a.m. 

The school-to-prison pipeline is created by policies that push America’s youth out of classrooms and into the juvenile- and criminal-justice systems. Many of the children have learning disabilities or face a history of povertyand abuse. 

“It’s a concern in schools that certain students are pipelined,” said Leah Murray, associate professor of political science and philosophy. “They get harsher punishments and seem to be profiled as bad kids early on and get pipelined into bad behavior later.”

Forum panelists include John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah, Emily Chiang, associate professor of law, University of Utah (U of U), Brenda Valles, senior research analyst of the Office for Equity and Diversity, U of U, and Forrest Crawford, assistant to the president for Diversity and professor of teacher education, WSU.

Moderated by Murray, the panelists will discuss ideas to break the school-to-prison pipeline. A select group of students will watch a documentary in class before the event in order to come prepared to explore the issue.

“It affects Weber State University as we are training the next generation of citizens here,” Murray said. “Students need to be aware of issues in the public schools. We have a number of students who want to be teachers, and the more they are aware, the better the schools will be.”

The Civil Liberties Forum objective is to invite students to think about an issue that deals with the Bill of Rights. Past years’ topics have included religion and gangs. 

The event is free and open to the public and is presented by the American Democracy Project and the ACLU of Utah. Visit for more news about Weber State University.
Leah Murray, associate professor political science and philosophy
801-626-6695 •
Kelsy Peterson, University Communications
801-626-7295 •