School to Prison Pipeline

Topics: High school, Zero tolerance, Education Pages: 6 (1948 words) Published: December 9, 2013

Topic: School-to-Prison Pipeline Research Paper
What is meant by the school-to-prison pipeline?
What are ways to address this problem?

The school-to-prison pipeline is a devastating part of reality for all too many students. The pipeline in definition is simply a term representing the tendency for certain students to easily end up in prison during or shortly after schooling. To decrease this tendency, it is important that teachers are aware of the issue and that the community as a whole works to implement policies that actually work, and eliminate the ones that strengthen the pipeline. Looking specifically at the pipeline amongst individuals with disabilities, it is evident that the population of those with disabilities is highly overrepresented within the prison system (Elias, 2013). Part of understanding the pipeline involves understanding the prevalence of minorities in the pipeline, looking at school’s zero tolerance policies and knowing what teachers can do in order to diminish the pipeline. Effects on Minorities - Disability

Minorities, including students with disabilities, are most at risk for becoming part of this pipeline. Students that have learning disabilities or emotional disabilities are often times both in the lower testing category and seen as more difficult to teach, which targets these students by increasing the likelihood that they will get into the pipeline. Students with disabilities that show even remote delinquent behavior are much more at risk to enter detention centers (Kim, C. Y., Losen, D. J., & Hewitt, D, 2010). Instead of staff being encouraged to help students and work to resolve issues they may have that is causing delinquent behavior, (which may simply be a quick fix issue or a matter of needing someone to talk to) schools put them into the prison system (Wald, J. M., & Losen, D. J, 2003). Having disabilities often impacts success when not given proper instruction (Ruppar, 2013). When students are not doing well in school, their confidence is low and thus their tolerance of school lowers with it (Ruppar, 2013). These are real issues, and it shows in the statistics. Students with emotional and or behavioral disabilities have a 56% drop out rate, which is the highest drop out rate of any other category of disability. Of those that drop out of school, 75% of them are arrested within three to five years of leaving school (Ruppar, 2013). Overrepresentation is also an issue when it comes to the pipeline. When students are enrolled in special education classes that do not have a disability, or that would benefit more from being involved with inclusion programs, they have a higher chance of drop out and entrance into the pipeline (Togut, 2012). Zero tolerance policies effect all students as well as minorities when it comes to the school to prison pipeline. Zero Tolerance Policy

An idea that at first sounds like a good one, a concept that makes children and their parents feel safe, a term that has life devastating backlash and consequences, is the infamous “Zero-Tolerance Policy”. When the topic is brought up about the school-to-prison pipeline, the majority of articles will also mention this policy and its negative effects on the issue. When the policy gets implemented under the wrong hands, it can have devastating effects. Years ago, misbehavior could be seen as “kids being kids”. Movies often portray kids misbehaving in ways such as food fights. Present day, acts as simple as the latter can result in multiple arrests. Children as young as fourth grade have been handcuffed and given a criminal record of “misdemeanor conduct,” simply due to throwing a french fry in the lunchroom (Saulny, 2009). With zero tolerance policies involving police in schools, five year old children having temper tantrums have led to being put in handcuffs (Halkett, 2012). Studies show that arrests, even without expulsion, put kids on a fast track to dropping out of school...

References: Chongmin Na & Denise C. Gottfredson (2011): Police officers in schools: effects on school crime and the processing of offending behaviors, Justice Quarterly, DOI:10.1080/ 07418825.2011.615754
Coggshall, J
Cole, H. A., & Heilig, J. (2011). Developing a school-based youth court: a potential alternative to the school to prison pipeline. Journal Of Law & Education, 40(2), 305-321.
Elias, M. (2013, Spring). The School-to-Prison Pipeline. Teaching Tolerance. Retrieved from
Fancher, M
Halkett, K. (Adapter). (2012). The US 's school to prison pipeline [Video]. US: Inside Story Americas - Aljazeera. Retrieved November, 2013, from
Kim, C
Ruppar, A. (2013, October 14). Emotional and behavioral disabilities lecture. Lecture presented at Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education 300 in Education Building, Madison.
Saulny, S. (2009, November 10). 25 Chicago students arrested for a middle-school food fight. The New York Times. Retrieved from
Wald, J. M., & Losen, D. J. (2003). Deconstructing the school-to-prison pipeline. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
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