What is the “school-to-prison pipeline,” and what steps have various reform groups taken to halt the funneling of students into the criminal justice system in major U.S. cities over the past five years?
The school-to-prison pipeline plagues schools and youth across the country, specifically minority and disabled students in urban areas. Due to policies employed in elementary and secondary schools across the United States, students are funneled directly from the school system into the criminal justice system. Many of these schools have metal detectors at every entrance, law enforcement officers staffing the buildings and campuses, and intense zero-tolerance policies that treat minor and major infractions with similar severity. Authorities and educators have shown an increasing dependence on suspensions, expulsions, and outside law enforcement to intervene when faced with disciplinary issues in the classroom. The removal of students from the classroom setting regularly for both major and minor disciplinary infractions poses significant physical and emotional risks to youth. Often, young people living in urban settings are led to feel that arrest and incarceration are inevitable and are simply what lies ahead in their futures. Recidivism rates for juveniles are shockingly high and the school-to-prison pipeline only adds to these figures. The fact that school policies could be, at least in part, responsible for guiding students into the criminal justice system is alarming; any policies or campaigns to put a stop to this pipeline are incredibly important.
To start my research, I used Google, Google Scholar, and JStor to search “school to prison pipeline” in an effort to gather broad, background information about the school-to-prison pipeline. After gathering information about the way the pipeline is defined and framed, I narrowed my search to “school to prison pipeline new york city” and “education policy school to prison pipeline.” Next I moved on to create a working list of groups dedicated to tackling the pipeline by searching “school to prison pipeline reform” and “education reformers new york, ny.” I then searched some of the names that I found cropping up in multiple articles to expand my list of reformers and campaigns. While I do have a list of individuals who are prominent leaders in the field and their accomplishments, I would like to delve deeper into not only the reform methods that they have tried and succeeded with, but also those attempts that were not successful.
“A Look At School Discipline | New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) – American Civil Liberties Union of New York State.” A Look At School Discipline | New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) – American Civil Liberties Union of New York State. New York Civil Liberties Union, n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2013. http://www.nyclu.org/schooltoprison/factsheet
“A Look At School Safety | New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) – American Civil Liberties Union of New York State.” A Look At School Safety | New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) – American Civil Liberties Union of New York State. New York Civil Liberties Union, n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2013. http://www.nyclu.org/schooltoprison/lookatsafety
Kim, Catherine Y., Daniel J. Losen, and Damon Hewitt. The School to Prison Pipeline: Structuring Legal Reform. New York: New York UP, 2010. Print.
“Medgar Evers College President William L. Pollard and Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes Present a Symposium on Race, Law and Justice: Strategies for Closing the School-to-Prison Pipeline.” CUNY Newswire. The City University of New York, 14 Feb. 2013. Web. 05 Apr. 2013. <http://www1.cuny.edu/mu/forum/2013/02/14/medgar-evers-college-president-william-l-pollard-and-kings-county-district-attorney-charles-j-hynes-present-a-symposium-on-race-law-and-justice-strategies-for-closing-the-school-to-prison-pipeline/>.
Resmovits, Joy. “School-To-Prison Pipeline Targeted By Judges, Education Officials.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 12 Mar. 2012. Web. 04 Apr. 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/12/school-to-prison-pipeline_n_1340380.html
“School-to-Prison Pipeline.” American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2013. http://www.aclu.org/racial-justice/school-prison-pipeline
“The Student Safety Act | New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) – American Civil Liberties Union of New York State.” The Student Safety Act | New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) – American Civil Liberties Union of New York State. New York Civil Liberties Union, n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2013. http://www.nyclu.org/schooltoprison/ssa
Wald, J. and Losen, D. J. Defining and redirecting a school-to-prison pipeline. New Directions for Youth Development, 2003: 9–15. doi: 10.1002/yd.51
Welch, Kelly, and Allison Ann Payne. “Racial Threat and Punitive School Discipline.” Social Problems 57.1 (2010): 25-48. JSTOR. Web. 02 Apr. 2013. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/sp.2010.57.1.25
“YCP.” YCP. Kings County District Attorney Office, n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2013. www.brooklynda.org/YCP/YCP.htm
One thought on “The School-to-Prison Pipeline Research Essay Proposal”
As we discussed, this is a very rich topic that illustrates a diverse array of approaches to the current issue, including (among several you mentioned) reforms to 1) change school security and safety; 2) mentoring youth outside of school; 3) redirecting youthful offenders away from the court system; restorative justice, etc. To fully embrace the Ed 300 change/continuity guidelines, a revised research question might ask how these approaches above responded to a particular milestone in juvenile legal issues. For example, prior students have examined what happened after passage of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Act of 1974. That may not be the right milestone for your RQ, but looking for an anchor would help ground your essay in a specific time period. (For example, you could search EdWeek.org for subsequent policy changes that included the key phrase above).
Furthermore, as we discussed, when you continue your search strategy, consider looking in librarian-run databases for key terms, then seeing similar titles under similar subject headings organized by librarians. This works well in Trincoll.worldcat.org as well as some of the specialized databases like Ed Full Text.
Also consider searching EdWeek.org (back to 1981) for juvenile + prison stories, such as this, to find key policy milestones/obstacles. See example:
Definitely look at the Losen works above.
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