What's at Stake for Our Kids & Community

SPYS addresses issues that are gaining increased public attention and putting our children, their families, and our community’s well-being at risk: criminal justice reform, alternatives to suspensions, and Minnesota’s glaring inequities by which the same actions lead to different consequences based on a young person’s race, gender, socioeconomic status, or neighborhood.

  • Nearly 60% of suspensions and expulsions in Minnesota last year were of Black, Latino, Asian, Native American and other students of color, even though they are a quarter of the student population.
  • Students who are suspended even once are more likely to be held back a grade, drop out of school, commit a crime, and/or become incarcerated. Young people who do not finish high school are more than 8 times more likely to go to prison than students who graduate.
  • Nearly half of Ramsey County youth in juvenile detention centers are there as the result of a referral or police call from their school.
  • Nationally, African American youth are more likely than whites to be sentenced to adult prison. African Americans are about 16% of the youth population, but 37% have their cases moved to criminal court and 58% are sent to adult prisons.
  • Minnesota has the greatest black to white disparity in imprisonment rates and that between 1998 and 2008 there was a 200% increase in young people of color who were incarcerated, while white young adults declined by 9.3%.
  • The 4-year high school graduation rate in St. Paul Public Schools in 2012:
    57% African American
    53% American Indian
    70% Asian American
    59% Latino
    77% White

According to Executive Director Tracine Asberry, “Rather than recognize the brilliance and resilience of our young people, we’re turning our backs on a whole generation of youth. Our community benefits when we learn to listen to, work with, and guide young people to a more productive path rather than force them out, lock them up, deport them or deny them a comprehensive education.”