Common Sense Should Have Prevailed, Say Cops Who Arrested 12-Year-Old Doodler

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Based on what we've seen so far," said Queens Education Department spokesman David Cantor, "this shouldn't have happened."  He seemed to be leaving open the possibility that, when all the facts were in, he might take the position that leading a 12-year-old girl away in handcuffs for doodling on her desk at school had in fact been the right thing to do.

On February 1, junior-high student Alexa Gonzalez wrote two sentences on her desk in erasable green marker, adding a smiley face, presumably to indicate a lotal lack of remorse for her heinous crime.  Her teacher called the principal, the principal called the police, and the girl was taken away in handcuffs, spending the next few hours at the precinct.  "I thought maybe I would have to clean [the desk]," said the distraught criminal, who clearly was not prepared for the swift justice meted out to her.

According to the New York Daily News, this practice is sufficiently common that the New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the city for allegedly using "excessive force" against middle- and high-school students.  A sixth-grader was arrested last year for doodling at another school, and a five-year-old was handcuffed and taken away in 2008 after "throwing a fit" in kindergarten.

City education officials have since admitted that it was probably a mistake to have the girl arrested.  A police spokesman did not quite go that far, though he did agree that "[e]ven when we're asked to make an arrest, common sense should prevail, and discretion used in deciding whether an arrest or handcuffs are really necessary" in misdemeanor doodling cases.

In a poll on the NY Daily News site, only eight percent of voters agreed that arrest was the appropriate punishment for a student caught doodling.  For some reason, the death penalty was not listed as an option.

Link: ABA Journal