Healthy Families Will Break The School-to-Prison Pipeline

Peggy Walker, a juvenile court judge in Douglas County, sees on a daily basis why some schools are a direct path to prison. The problem begins at home. Many families trapped by drug abuse and poverty don’t have the knowledge it takes to nurture children so that they feel loved and safe. The result? Toxic stress, which physically makes children’s minds and bodies smaller and plants the seeds for substance abuse and mental illness. It’s a chicken-and-egg scenario: We won’t get kids reading if they are not first safe at home.

Judge Walker’s authority doesn’t only come from her professional exposure to families seen from the bench. She’s also a former teacher. What gives her perspective even more authority is having grown up in a county that’s known nationwide for an historic level of poverty. But it’s never too late, and nothing is ever too broken. Listen to Judge Walker’s impassioned plea to all of us to heal our families.

Then go back to hear how Fran Gary, who grew up homeless, hungry, abused, and kept from school, became CEO of Amerigroup Georgia. Living in a constant state of fear and uncertainty, Fran hung on for dear life to the moments she could steal alone with the four books she owned.

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