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Addressing the "school-to-prison pipeline" one conversation at a time

Oct 14, 2015

Belinda Dulin, executive director of the nonprofit Dispute Resolution Center.
Credit Courtney of Dispute Resolution Center

There are bipartisan bills in the Michigan Legislature aimed at changing the way juveniles are sentenced in court. According to the bill sponsors there are about 600 17-year-olds in Michigan corrections system – almost 350 of those are "juvenile lifers."

What if young people could learn effective, peaceful ways of resolving conflicts – ways to settle a dispute without resorting to violence?

The Dispute Resolution Center is hoping to combat the so-called "school-to-prison pipeline" by teaching young people alternative forms of conflict resolution.

The nonprofit DRC operates under the supervision of the Michigan State Court Administrative Office.

“When we can help kids stay in school, particularly kids who are poor, kids who are disadvantaged, kids with special needs, we not only change their lives, but we change the lives of generations to come,” Dispute Resolution Center Executive Director Belinda Dulin told Stateside’s Cynthia Canty.

“And when we think of these kids in the pipeline becoming incarcerated, they never stop being a convict, a felon, an inmate, and that’s what they become.”

Dulin talks about would it take to see more conflict resolution in the juvenile justice system.

"What we find particularly with young people when they have that opportunity to think about what they did they can take responsibility for the impact of what they did and they want to solve the problem. "

The DRC is hosting a film and panel discussion at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor tonight (Oct. 14) about juveniles sentenced to spending their lives in prison without the possibility of parole. For more information you can visit their website.