[Hpn] Police state in Arizona schools

Graeme Bacque graeme.bacque@3web.net
Fri, 01 Jun 2001 01:28:09 -0400

514 arrested under school violence law

Associated Press
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 
school day.

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."