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President Trump loses another round in court on immigrant “dreamers.” Also on today’s rundown: Environmentalists tell New York Gov. Cuomo to match words with action; California lawmakers wear jeans, taking a stand against sexual violence; and Airbnb is called out for “secret tax deals.”

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New Mexicans Check Plumbing on the 'Cradle to Prison Pipeline' This Week

February 25, 2009

Albuquerque - They call it a 'pipeline' that needs to be shut down for good. Youth leaders from New Mexico and across the country are in California this week for the "Cradle to Prison Pipeline Summit," where they'll look at ways to cut down on the risk factors that make children more likely to end up behind bars down the road.

Evan Holland with the Children's Defense Fund-California says those risk factors start before children are born and compound over their lifetimes, pushing a child away from the path to college or success and towards a life that can lead to incarceration or premature death.

"Those factors are things like poverty, lack of access to health coverage, under-equipped schools, lack of community resources, things that are essential to keep a child safe and healthy and on a productive path."

She says New Mexico kids are especially at risk with high levels of child poverty and a big majority of students reading below grade level, and the numbers for New Mexico's kids need to be turned around.

"One of four children is poor in New Mexico, and as of 2005, over 85 percent of black children, 75 percent of Latino fourth-graders, and 64 percent of white fourth graders, couldn't read at grade level."

She says that's why it's important for lawmakers to make sure that programs for education and for keeping families out of poverty get attention, to keep kids out of the pipeline to prison.

Holland adds that there's a lot states can do to help kids avoid the pipeline. She points to the "Missouri model" - where that state has created caring community environments for rehabilitation as an alternative to large prison-like youth facilities, and the result has been reductions in recidivism among young people.

More on the summit in Sacramento is at www.childrensdefense.org

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM