He Got A Bad Grade, So Police Put Him On Their List

Students watching a presentation
Zain Murdock
August 13, 2021

After coming under fire for their database of children who could “fall into a life of crime,” Florida’s Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has finally been restricted from access to kids’ private information – like Elijah’s. 

But what information was it? And what exactly were they doing with it?

Tampa police recorded middle and high school students’ grades, attendance records, and even whether they suffer abuse at home. Meaning that 13-year-olds like Elijah were identified as “at-risk youth who are destined to a life of crime” – for something as simple as getting a D in pre-algebra!

But Pasco County did more than just the database.

Under the guise of offering “support,” police made hundreds of visits to students’ houses!

But their contribution to the school-to-prison pipeline is unsurprising in a county where Black students are 2.5x as likely to be suspended as white students.

Police also failed to inform the kids and parents when they added names to the list. So, when Elijah did find out he was on the list, it was already too late. He received a letter telling him he was “selected to participate in a Prolific Offender Program” – meaning he was being watched.

Instead of criminalizing youth, we need to give them love, guidance, and support. Investing in Black youth means creating opportunities for them, not surveilling them or predicting their "criminality!"

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