Stop Calling Immigrant Prisons "Detention Centers"

In Adelanto immigrant prison, 3 people have died in the last 7 months, and 6 people have attempted suicide since December 2016.  If these are harmless “detention centers” … Why do they look like prisons, why are they run like prisons, and why are they owned by prison companies?

In order to end the abuse, we must first call them prisons and then close them. Starting with Adelanto!


#SchoolsNotPrisons is a free music and art tour that is partnering with California communities that have been impacted by the overuse of punishment and incarceration to ask the question:

What really keeps us safe?

For decades, California has been overspending on prisons under the mistaken idea that punishing and incarcerating people is what keeps communities safe.

It doesn’t. It breaks apart families and communities – especially communities of color, and it is taking opportunity away from our young people.

Since 1980, California has built 22 prisons but just one UC campus. And in 2014, youth arrests outnumbered youth votes.

Tour partners & artists are standing up for a new vision of school and community safety centered on health, education, and investing in youth.

And we are ready to stay loud for #SchoolsNotPrisons!

The tour promotes non-violence and activism by young people. We encourage voting as a key way for communities committed to safety, justice, and peace to join in solidarity to make change.

The #SchoolsNotPrisons tour is produced by Revolve Impact, and supported by The California Endowment and The California Wellness Foundation.


“School pushout” is what happens when students are deprived of the education and opportunities that all young people deserve.

Many factors contribute to pushout, including: the overuse of harsh school discipline like suspensions, inadequate funding for schools in underserved communities, the lack of counselors and health services in schools, and other supports that young people need to thrive.

 Too often students of color do not have these positive supports, experience institutional bias, and are pushed out of school.

  • Overuse of suspensions for misbehavior starts as young as preschool. Nationally, Black preschoolers are 3.6x as likely as their white peers to be suspended.
  • Last year, California schools suspended more than 240,000 students. Minor misbehavior like defiance was the most common cause of suspensions.
  • While the government makes it illegal for undocumented people to work on the outside, they are hired by the private prisons and paid just $1 a day.

  • Each suspension in the 9th and 10th grade increases the likelihood of dropout by 12%.
  • And students who drop out are 3x more likely to be arrested, and 8 times more likely to end up in jail or prison.
  • Students who are Black, Latino and LGBTQ are more likely to be suspended than their peers.
  • Only 2% of California schools have School-based health centers. And our student to counselor ratio is 945 to 1, compared to the national average of 477 to 1, making California last in the nation.
  • Nationally, one third of young people will be arrested by age 23. And in 2014, youth arrests outnumbered youth votes in California.


40,000 immigrants and refugees are incarcerated in immigrant prisons across the US, breaking apart families and communities. The majority of immigrants in California are held in facilities run by private, for-profit prison companies that make millions of dollars a year incarcerating immigrants.

Human rights organizations have reported countless abuses at these prisons, including: blocking access to attorneys, sexual abuse, poor access to healthcare, overuse of solitary confinement, and even death.

  • The for-profit prison corporation GEO Group runs the largest immigrant prison in California, “Adelanto Detention Center,” where 1,600 people are incarcerated and abuse is rampant.
  • Taxpayers spend $40,850 to lock up an immigrant at Adelanto per year, and just $11,300 per student.
  • 3 people have died at Adelanto in the last 6 months, and 5 have attempted suicide since Dec. 2016.
  • Incarcerated people at Adelanto have launched multiple hunger strikes to protest unjust and unsafe conditions, including: abuse, denial of healthcare, excessive bail, and unclean food and water.
  • LGBTQ detainees are particularly vulnerable to harassment and abuse due to their sexual orientation.
  • 7 in 10 incarcerated immigrants in California don’t have an attorney to help them make their case to a judge, and immigrants who do have attorneys are 5x more likely to be able to stay in the US and return to their families and communities.
  • Prior to the 1990s, most people awaiting immigration proceedings were not incarcerated.


Putting youth in jail or prison doesn’t make our communities any safer.  In fact, it can cause more trauma and harm to young people and leave them worse off.

When youth are incarcerated their education and mental health suffer.

California’s young people need more positive supports.  And when they make mistakes, they need to be held accountable but also provided with guidance to get them back on track – not pushed further into the prison pipeline.


  • California has about 7,000 young people incarcerated in state and county facilities.
  • The state spends $264,000 a year to lock up a youth in state prison, but just $10,300 per student in K-12 schools.
  • Incarcerating youth doesn’t decrease reoffending, and it may increase recidivism for some young people, studies show.
  • In 2014 alone, 47,655 youth in California spent some portion of their school year in a “court school” (a school inside of youth prison or jail) where dropout rates are extremely high – 71% in San Bernardino County and 64% in Fresno County.
  • Nationally, LGBTQ youth make up approximately 15% of the juvenile detention population, but only 6% of the general population.
  • In 2014, white youth who were arrested were 31% more likely to be counseled and released, and black youth were more likely to be referred to probation.


Having an incarcerated parent is a form of trauma, and children who have a parent in jail or prison are extremely vulnerable.  They are much more likely to have health problems and struggle in school.

Family unity and stability are key to a child’s lifelong health and well-being.

  • An estimated 1 of 11 children in California have a parent in the correctional system.
  • Black children are 7x and Latino children 2.5x more likely to have a parent in prison than white children.
  • People who are incarcerated face many barriers to employment. In the year after an incarcerated father is released, family income drops by approximately 15% from what it was before incarceration.
  • Nationally, 1 in 4 black children have had an incarcerated parent.
  • Nationally, only 1-2% of students with incarcerated mothers graduate from college.


For decades, California has been overspending on prisons under the mistaken idea that punishing and incarcerating people is what keeps communities safe.

It doesn’t.  And the impact of harsh punishment has devastated families, schools and neighborhoods, especially communities of color, and is taking opportunity away from our young people.

#SchoolsNotPrisons partners are calling for investments in real safety: more funding for health, education and youth. Not more punishment.

  • Since 1980, California has built 22 prisons, but just 1 UC Campus.
  • Over the last 3 decades in California, spending on jails and prisons increased 3x faster than spending on k-12 schools.
  • California spends more than $12 billion on punishment, that includes $264,000 to lock-up 1 youth for a year, but just $10,300 per public school student.
  • The private prison company GEO is paid $17 million dollars a year to incarcerate around 400 immigrants in Kern County, more money than is spent on parks and recreation for the entire county.
  • Since 1990, California’s state spending per college student has gone DOWN 23%, and state spending per resident on jails and prisons UP 46%.
  • For the amount of money Sacramento County spends a year on youth prisons, it could pay tuition for every single student at Sacramento City College.


In 2014, California passed Prop. 47 and voted to spend less money locking people up, and instead direct that money towards schools, drug and alcohol addiction services, and healing for crime victims.

Californians are tired of overspending on prisons and punishment, while our students and communities don’t have the resources they need to succeed and be healthy.

Black and Latino communities are more harshly punished by the justice system, while lacking the health and prevention services available to other communities.

#SchoolsNotPrisons partners across the state are standing up for real safety and shifting public dollars away from punishment, and into prevention.

  • In 2015, thanks to Prop 47, the state of California saved $68 million that will be reinvested in health, education and support for youth.
  • Alameda County #SchoolsNotPrisons partners won a reduction in jail funding and increased investments in community based support for people returning home from incarceration.
  • #SchoolsNotPrisons partners in LA won a campaign to shift millions in Prop. 47 savings away from incarceration, and into community based solutions.
  • San Francisco advocates blocked a $215 million jail expansion. That money will now go towards mental health services and diversion programs that connect people to the resources they need, rather than taking them to jail.


We can’t punish our way to safety. We need to invest in what works – real safety: education, health, support services for the formerly incarcerated, and investing in youth.

It is time to end this culture of punishment, and replace it with a culture of prevention.

It is time to get loud and VOTA for #SchoolsNotPrisons.

  • When school districts give kids the positive supports they need and address underlying causes of behavior problems, suspensions and office referrals go down and test scores go up.
  • After Garfield High School in East LA introduced a positive behavior program, suspensions went from 510 to 1. And student test scores went up, improving the school’s overall rating.
  • Oakland schools participating in restorative justice programs – an alternative to suspensions and expulsions – saw increases in graduation rates and reading scores and fewer absences.
  • Providing family-based therapy to formerly incarcerated juveniles & their families works. One program has been shown to return $20 for every $1 that is spent, whereas programs like intensive probation end up costing $1.35 for every $1 we spend.
  • Studies show detained immigrants with attorneys are 5x more likely to have a successful outcome. New York City provides attorneys to all city resident immigrants who are detained.
  • Many studies show that employment is the key to reducing recidivism. When Chicago provided formerly incarcerated persons with employment, only 18% returned to prison in 3 years, compared to a recidivism rate of more than 50% for people released without those services.
  • Alameda #SchoolsNotPrisons partners launched the “Jobs for Freedom” initiative to create 1,400 county jobs for formerly incarcerated residents.





The #SchoolsNotPrisons tour is a nonpartisan public education event. It does not endorse or oppose any candidate for public office or support or oppose any ballot measure.

Each tour stop is FREE and family friendly.

Drugs, alcohol and weapons of any kind will not be permitted. No illegal vending is permitted (no unauthorized or unlicensed vendors will be allowed).

The #SchoolsNotPrisons tour imagines a new vision of school and community safety centered on health, education, and investing in young people.



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