[Hpn] Police state in Arizona schools
Fri, 01 Jun 2001 01:28:09 -0400
514 arrested under school violence law
May 28, 2001
TUCSON - Officials enforcing a law aimed at stopping school violence
arrested 514 Pima County children this school year for making comments
perceived to be threats. That's an average of about three arrests per
The law, which forbids "interfering with the peaceful conduct of an
educational institution," was changed in April 2000 to allow felony
charges. At its worst, the offense is a Class 6 felony.
The change was a response to cases of school violence elsewhere in the nation.
Gabriela Rico, spokeswoman for the Pima County Juvenile Court Center, told
the Tucson Citizen that the volume of arrests for threatening behavior has
gone through the roof.
Opponents of the law say it's an overreaction to arrest every child for
making threats or comments that are taken as threats.
But Nanette Warner, presiding judge of Pima County Juvenile Court, said the
law gives officials valuable leverage.
"You're talking about elementary school and preteen kids who are trying to
figure out who they are, and they get frustrated and they get angry,"
Warner said. "Are they really serious? Have they really formulated a plan?
Most have not.
"The message that we keep trying to communicate to kids is, don't make
threats. This is behavior that is going to get you into serious trouble."