'Muskogee County residents, whose school-aged children accrue four absences over a four-week period of time, get a ticket from police and have to see a judge. The citation, if not signed, also leads to the detainment and potential arrest of their children. In police accountability circles, the truancy to incarceration system is known as the “school to prison pipeline.” One mother, whose son was arrested, placed in handcuffs, and taken to the same building which houses the county jail, is speaking out.
Stephanie, who chose not to use her last name while being interviewed with WMBF reporters, fully accepted the blame for her son not attending school as frequently as he should have.
It’s my fault. Exactly. It’s not my 14-year-old son’s fault. He doesn’t have a car to get himself there…I am willing to take responsibility for the days that he did miss..Them arresting him, putting handcuffs on him, and leaving marks on him and traumatizing him, in my perspective, is unacceptable!
TFTP called Muskogee County’s Community Intervention Center (CIC), the county branch which enforces the truancy program. Instead of reaching CIC, the phone number we dialed connected directly with the jail, which transferred us over to CIC. The receptionist stated parents get tickets and the local judge decides on the amount of the fine to be levied against parents whose children are absent from school. She also confirmed to us if the parents refuse to sign the citation, the children are then detained and taken to CIC where their parents have to sign the citation to receive custody of their children. This process is exactly what Stephanie told reporters happened to her son when he was kidnapped by police, placed in handcuffs, and taken to jail (CIC office is located inside the jail’s building). She said he was injured both physically and emotionally and that his absences from school were because of illness.
I could visibly see marks on his wrists…Even if it’s 20, they shouldn’t have handcuffed him in front of everybody…Kids get sick, and they don’t always have to have a doctor’s note.
Predictably, the school system supports the law enforcement activities of Muskogee County. School system spokesperson Steve Braun said:
That’s Oklahoma state statute. It’s been on the books for decades now…Parent comes in, signs the citation, and goes about the day.'
Read more: Child Handcuffed, Arrested and Thrown in Jail for Missing Too Many Days of School