Body Worn Video Steering Group

Body Cameras May Inadvertently Improve the School-to-Prison Pipeline

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The American Civil Liberties Union has just released an article related to the question of whether body worn video cameras have a place in schools. Naturally, this is fraught with issues concerning privacy and the criminalisation of actions previously dealt with internally.

School to Prison Pipeline Body Worn Video Camera

In the article penned by Senior Policy Analyst Jay Stanley, the position of the ACLU is outlined:

“First of all, we don’t think that police officers should be routinely present in schools at all. Traditionally, police have not been involved in schools outside of genuine emergencies and serious crimes, but more and more police officers are being permanently stationed at schools.”

“This contributes to the criminalization of many routine school disciplinary matters that have never before been handled through the criminal justice system, and the strengthening of what we call the school-to-prison pipeline.”


“To begin with, police officers, when in schools, should not regularly be engaging in the type of law enforcement efforts that would require them to wear body cameras. The activities of police, on the rare occasions when operating in schools is justified, should be closely and actively monitored by school officials, not by body cameras.

“My colleagues who work on these issues tell me there is a genuine need for increased accountability for the actions of police in schools—but what is needed are not cameras, but measures such as the collection of data on arrests, and MOUs between schools and police departments.

“On the other side of the equation, body cameras present a real threat to students’ privacy and contribute to the creation of an environment in schools of pervasive surveillance, with all the bad lessons that creates for the future freedom-minded citizens that we want to mold.

“More likely than not, body camera footage is just going to be whipped out left and right for the enforcement of petty rules and disciplinary disturbances.

“Body cameras, if done right, make sense for police in our communities. They do not make sense for police in our schools.”

Students, parents, and teachers alike will probably not respond favourably to the prospect of body cameras in schools. Potential arguments are that only schools dealing with challenging students with a history of abusive outbursts should be monitored in this way, and that students at ‘healthy’ schools do not.

Additionally, similar to how narcotic possession is treated criminally as opposed to as a health issue, many more young people could find themselves at risk of a blemish on their record (educationally or criminally) hindering them later in life, and what was once trivial child’s play becomes much worse. As police agencies worldwide use the technology more and more NGO workers have adopted the devices, ranging from construction inspectors, car parking wardens, and security workers to name a few.

To read the full article click here.




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