The School-to-Prison Pipeline Abstract

TheSchool-to-Prison Pipeline


The school-to-prison pipeline has undermined education andintensified crime in the society. The scenario has been worse becauseof the discriminative policies that push the students into thecorrective institutions. This essay will look at the problem andidentify the causes and provide the measures that can reduce theseverity. First, it will look at the problem and analyze the effectsit has on the students and the society. It will also focus on the waythat the concept has led to an increase in the rate of crime. It willalso reveal the facts and the numbers that describe theschool-to-prison pipeline and illustrate how the minorities are themost affected group. In fact, it will illustrate the impact of theStudent Safety Act that shifted the security issues to the policeofficers rather than the educators. It will also highlight how thestudents with the low scores are mostly the victims of thesuspensions and expulsions since they are considered as “troublemakers.” Lastly, it will reveal how the corrective measures such asthe counseling and positive behavior support groups might help suchstudents to be responsible people in the society.

The School-to-Prison Pipeline

The school-to-prison pipeline refers to the way that the students aresent to prison and juvenile detention centers because of variousdisruptive behaviors that they might have committed (Gonzalez, 2012).The statistics reveal that most of the victims are students of color,and the ones that have learning disabilities, history of abuse andpoverty (Gonzalez, 2012). Most school administrations have ignoredthe corrective measures such as counseling and positive behaviorsupport groups that can be created to help the students. Instead,they believe that the juvenile detention centers and the prisons arethe most effective approaches in controlling the disruptive behaviorsthat the students portray in the school. The result of suchuninformed decisions is increased criminal activities since most ofthe expelled students cannot get well-paying jobs instead. This essayillustrates how the school-to-prison pipeline has increased criminalactivities in the communities, and the management needs to adoptcounseling and the other positive behavior supportive groups thatwill nurture the students into being responsible people in thesociety.

Some of the students are suffering from poverty, abuse or neglect,and educational and counseling assistance might be the only criticalapproach in shaping them into being responsible people in thesociety. Instead, the government focuses on isolating them, punishingthem as well as pushing them out of the education system. Thegovernment pushes them back to the environment that they are tryingto get out of. For instance, some of them believe that education willshape them into being responsible, and they will move out of thepoverty and neglect but, the government goes ahead to squash theirdreams. At times, some of the disruptive behavior they have engagedin might be solved through counseling and not the expulsion that mostschools adopt (Winn &amp Behizadeh, 2011). In the process, some ofthem turn into hardcore criminals that engage in some seriousoffenses. They even fall behind in their lessons and might leaveschool in the end. The school administration fails to acknowledgethat the school is the only place that will change them, and pushingthem out of the school system only worsens the situation.

The situation is worse among the minorities that are exposed tovarious challenges in the society. Most school administrations willmore likely push a Latino or a Black student from the school to theprison if they are found engaging in activities that are deemeddisruptive. For instance, about 40% of the students expelled from theschools in a year are either Black or Latino. In 2010, around threemillion students were expelled from their schools around the US (Winn&amp Behizadeh, 2011). The number is shocking and shows the need forimmediate corrective measures. The high rate of the students headingto prison has been fueled by various discriminative policies. Forinstance, the zero tolerance policies have stressed on the arrest ofthe students, the presence of police officers within the schoolcompounds is another reason. High academic targets and the otherpolicies have also led to the suspensions, expulsions and the arrestsof millions of students. In fact, about 68% of the male inmates thatare locked in the federal prisons do not have a high school diploma(Winn &amp Behizadeh, 2011). The statistics show that some of theprisoners had issues with their school management, and that led totheir current state. Hence, corrective measures should be implementedto avoid such scenarios in the future.

The Student Safety Act is one of the policies that have facilitatedthe school-to-prison pipeline. The Student Safety Act led to thesecurity issues in the schools to be shifted from the educators tothe police officers (Fowler, 2011). The scenario has led to morearrests since the police are not trained to handle indiscipline asthe teachers do. Fowler (2011) revealed that the truancy levelaccounted for the 1/3 absence cases in 2011 in most US schools. Fromsuch a scenario, the police officers were seen as a better approachin dealing with the increased truancy and delinquency level in theschools. However, the teachers have a purpose of educating thestudents yet, the police officers are supposed to create peace andorder in any public area. Hence, the functions of the teachers andthe police officers are not the same and that has facilitated theschool-to-prison pipeline. The Student Safety Act has led to anincrease of the police officers in the schools to around 5200 from3200 before the policy was implemented (Fowler, 2011). The scenarioshows that indiscipline is supposed to be handled from an academicperspective as opposed to the security point-of-view. The academicperspective tends to handle indiscipline in the most appropriate andmotivating way that will urge the student to seek effective ways ofassociation and learning. The scenario has shown cases of child abusewhere the police officers treat the students inappropriately. Theliving conditions in the prisons and the other correctiveinstitutions are pathetic, and the situation has exposed the childrento illness and stress (Cole &amp Heilig, 2011). In the process, thesituation keeps getting worse since the school management and thecurriculum administrators have failed to find a viable solution.

The academic performance of the students has continued to be a mainissue and some students have been forced out of the school systembecause of their low scores. For instance, a FairTest factsheet onFlorida’s academic performance revealed that the low-scoringstudents faced longer suspensions as opposed to the high-scoringstudents (Cole &amp Heilig, 2011). Besides that, it also revealedthat the students that have learning disabilities are more likely tobe suspended. Most schools believe that the students with the lowscores are the ones that will cause problems in the school. Hence,any reported case of truancy will result in suspension or expulsion.The schools have shifted into test-prep academies rather than findingways to help the students have learning disabilities (Cole &ampHeilig, 2011). The shame and backlash that such students receivemight push them into crime since they believe that they cannot getthe same academic performance that the school wants. Most of theseschools rely on the scripted curriculum, and that has also underminedthe role of the teachers in helping the students that might have alearning problem. For instance, a teacher that focuses more on thestudents with the low scores is more likely to undermine theperformance of the other students. Hence, the teacher might sacrificethe performance of one student and focus on the students thatunderstand what is being taught. The teachers, security guards andthe administrators will expel any student that is considered as a“problem maker” (Cole &amp Heilig, 2011). The scenario shows howthe schools lack compassion and they are focused on helping thestudents with the high scores as opposed to the ones with the lowerscores. More importantly, the school should involve the community inthe school management and device ways that might help the group ofstudents that are considered as the failures and problem makers. Theissue needs the management to change their perspective on thestudents and insist on helping them instead.

Most of the public schools need to divert the school-to-prisonpipeline by initiating a number of policies that will correct thesituation. For instance, the schools should focus more on thepositive behavior intervention and support system that urge thestudents to ignore the immoral behaviors. The schools should analyzetheir annual reports that have the overall disciplinary actions andlook at those suspended based on the race, gender as well as ability(Winn &amp Behizadeh, 2011). The approach will show the schoolmanagement how they are engaging in discriminative practices and thatwill push them into changing their strategies. The school managementshould also reduce the arrests at school and they should also limitthe use of mace, handcuffs or restraints against the students. Theteachers should also seek training that will improve how theyinteract with the students that are at risk of engaging in disruptivebehaviors. More importantly, the school might even use the positivebehavior support or even seek counseling to help the students ratherthan pushing them into the prisons and the juvenile detention center.

In conclusion, the school-to-prison pipeline is turning the studentsinto hardcore criminal rather than shaping them into responsibleadults. Most of the students end up facing a hard life since theylack the proper education that will ensure they get well-paying jobs.Instead, the schools believe that they are helping the students yet,they are making the situation even much worse. For instance, theschool management needs to limit the use of police force within thecompound. Even if the Student Safety Act has shifted the securityissues to the police officers, they might still find a way to helpthe learners rather than pushing them into jail. In most cases,education is something that will give their lives a meaning and makesure that they have responsible lives. However, if they are deniedthat opportunity, it is more likely that they will become hardcorecriminals that will terrorize the community. In fact, the same policeofficers will have a hard time dealing with the criminals that havemore advanced tricks on their sleeves. Handling the indisciplineissue from an academic perspective is the only viable way that willhelp the students. Apart from that, they need to adopt some positivebehavior support initiatives and counseling sessions in reducing therate of disruptive behavior in the school. These initiatives will bea proper way of helping the students grows up to be responsiblepeople in the society.


Cole, H. A., &amp Heilig, J. V. (2011). Developing a school-basedyouth court: A potential alternative to the school to prisonpipeline. JL &amp Educ., 40, 305.

Fowler, D. (2011). School Discipline Feeds the&quot Pipeline toPrison&quot: As School Discipline Moves from the Principal`s Officeto the Courthouse, Children Are Poorly Served. Phi Delta Kappan,93(2), 14.

Gonzalez, T. (2012). Keeping kids in schools: Restorative justice,punitive discipline, and the school to prison pipeline. Journal ofLaw &amp Education, 41(2).

Winn, M. T., &amp Behizadeh, N. (2011). The Right to Be LiterateLiteracy, Education, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Review ofResearch in Education, 35(1), 147-173.