Ending the School to Prison Pipeline
The school-to-prison pipeline is a trend wherein public schools use policies that push children out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice system. This trend manifests itself through so-called zero-tolerance policies where any undesirable behavior or infraction, however minor, of school rules can result in punishment or removal from classrooms in restraints. Furthering the trend, many American schools have enacted other exclusionary policies, including the presence of armed police officers inside the schools, ending programs that benefit children with disabilities, and looking to punish rather than understand and help emotional outbursts and minor misbehaviors. Zero tolerance policies are intensified by overburdened teachers and staff, insufficient trained counselors and school nurses, inadequate funding, and emphasis on standardized test scores rather than education. This trend is ultimately another example of institutional racism, as it disproportionately targets and harms children of color, children with disabilities, LGBTQIA children, and children with stressful family dynamics.
These policies favor legal interventions over restorative practices and education. Dr. Ameena Matthews believes that all children deserve the opportunity to build healthy relationships while growing and learning in safe environments, without the constant threat of incarceration.
Privatized Prison Abolition, Criminal Justice Reform
Dr. Ameena Matthews wants to promote human rights and dignities within the criminal justice system by ending the era of mass incarceration, especially for non-violent offenses, and for-profit prisons. She plans to identify and eradicate discrimination within the justice system to promote equity and actual justice.
Dr. Ameena Mathews will work to ensure that survivors of sexual assault and/or intimate partner abuse, victims of child abuse or neglect and people with disabilities have their voices heard and do not have their lives torn apart by injustice in the legal system.
Dr. Ameena Matthews believes that transforming a juvenile criminal justice system that subjects children to abuse and neglect by failing to provide necessary medical, mental health, educational and rehabilitative services must also be a priority.
Dr. Ameena Matthews believes in a future in which all women have equal rights, protections, access, and opportunities; one where all marginalized women, including women of color, women living with disabilities, sexual minority women, immigrant women, and women with all religious backgrounds are protected from discrimination in hiring, housing, and reproductive rights.
Women’s rights are human rights. We must ensure equitable access to healthcare, childcare, housing, income, paid leave, and fair and dignified treatment. Federal steps to end pay and hiring discrimination, especially against marginalized women, must be taken as gender related hiring discrimination and pay gaps continue to do harm to Chicago women.
Sex and gender discrimination must not be allowed to stand in a free democratic society.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and people of other marginalized sexuality and genders deserve to live openly without discrimination. LGBTQIA+ people experience discrimination in employment, housing, education, and medical care, and LGBTQIA+ people of color suffer discrimination at twice the rate of Whites.
Amendment of existing civil rights law is necessary because the grossly inadequate combination of state and local anti-discrimination laws often fail to protect sexual minority individuals. The Equality Act would ensure progress towards equal rights and protections for LGBTQIA+ people on a federal level, explicitly including sexuality and gender identity in the protections of existing civil rights law.
The regulation of firearms, including the requirement of licenses for all gun owners and the institution of universal background checks, are vital to keeping our communities and our children safe. Though few studies have been allowed to be conducted, those that do exist confirm that higher rates of mass shootings occur in states with more lax gun regulations. Closing the current loopholes allowing for an absence of background checks for online and gun show sales is a critical step in addressing this public health issue.
We need to end the gun lobby’s hold over our people.
Dr. Ameena Matthews believes our country should ensure that all immigrants are treated fairly, equally, and with dignity. Immigrant families should not be forced to live in fear of deportation, separation, or illegal and unfair apprehension by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
It is imperative that we ensure that even the youngest immigrants and asylum seekers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. We must put an end to inhumane and unsafe detention centers and systemic abuses within the immigration court and detention system.
All children need to have legal counsel during immigration hearings. No child is equipped to deal with immigration proceedings on their own, let alone in a system as discriminatory as the one in the United States.
Mental health issues are major contributors to systemic problems that have impacted the lives of our people. Over the past few years, many facilities crucial to providing care to underserved communities have been denied adequate funding, resulting in their closure and creating limited access for patients in need of mental health care. Dr. Ameena Matthews recognizes that the lack of quality mental health care is a public health crisis that has contributed to the increase in the prison populations. Real solutions need to be implemented to address the gaps in mental health care, particularly amongst those affected by community violence and other forms of trauma.