Applying the Pressure to Bust a Pipe – A Pipeline That Is

By: John Jusu

It has always been a well-recognized principle that a society’s youth act as the pillar of a successful culture’s future. Children are often molded and educated to transform into our world’s impending trailblazers, instilling in them a sense of work ethic and responsibility that emulates societal standards of leadership and fortitude. However, some children are stripped of this opportunity at a young age due to some of the disciplinary policies that are enforced in a number of educational settings.

The “school-to-prison pipeline” refers to the procedures and practices that drive our nation’s schoolchildren out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. This pipeline reflects the prioritization of incarceration over education. One of the most prominent reasons why this conduit from school yard to prison yard exists has to do with inadequate resources in our nation’s public schools: Students are constantly hampered with congested classrooms, outdated materials, and understaffed, underpaid, and unqualified educators. These economically deficient factors undoubtedly lead to disinterest amongst students, resulting in a substantial number of dropouts.

With these factors looming, schools have implemented zero-tolerance policies which result in suspension or automatic expulsion. In recent years, suspension rates have radically increased from 1.7 million in 1974 to 3.1 million in 2000, with this spike most notably seen in minority students. For example, in a recent study, Jason Langberg, the supervising attorney of Advocates for Children Services in Wake County, NC, found that black students in the county’s schools were suspended five times as often as their white peers. However, Langberg found no evidence to suggest that black students misbehaved more often or more severely than white students. Thus, there remains an anomaly regarding the treatment amongst various races within the school systems.

If our country intends to uphold the mantra that no child should be left behind, then our educational officials should consider revamping its policies which ultimately lead to impoverished results for our youth. It is true that once these children enter the juvenile justice system, many of them no longer have the opportunity to return to a traditional school setting, thus giving these individuals virtually no chance at a productive future. Although improving the economic settings of these facilities seems to be a daunting task, altering our school’s tactics when disciplining troubled youths appears to be manageable. If we begin to show these young people that they will always have a support system in light of the mistakes they may make, then we can start to eradicate these extreme procedures, which do nothing more than strip our youngsters of potential bright futures. It takes a village to raise a child, so we must stop throwing these kids to the wolves of our criminal justice systems, and instead take the time to nurture them, so that they can grow into the upstanding citizens that they are destined to be.

Sources:

https://www.aclu.org/fact-sheet/what-school-prison-pipeline

http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/america-tonight-blog/2014/1/23/school-to-prisonpipelineblackstudents.html

The Dangers of Youth Detention

By: Margaret Nollau

The purpose of detention centers is to temporarily hold minors in locked custody while they await trial or the court’s final disposition of their case (for example, a sentencing order).  Crime rates in America are the lowest in twenty years, yet hundreds of thousands of youth are detained every year in the country’s 591 detention centers.  Despite reduced crime rates, the number of minors being incarcerated is actually on the rise.  The rationale for keeping these youth is that they are “high risk”; it is believed they are violent, will re-offend before trial, or will not appear for their scheduled court date.  Many of these kids, however, do not meet that profile.  In fact, 70% of the minors in detention are detained for nonviolent crimes.

What is intended to be a protective measure for bringing these youth to justice may actually cause more harm than good.  Experts have highlighted three of the many ways in which these kids are harmed by their detention.

First, it has been found that juvenile detention centers closely resemble adult jails.  Not only are the detained youth separated from their families and support systems, the people most interested in their recovery, but often become subject to neglect and violence due to the facilities being overcrowded and understaffed.  Furthermore, they often learn bad behaviors from peers detained in the same centers but for greater offenses.

Second, detention has a negative impact on the youth’s mental and physical well-being, education, and future employment.  A study found one-third of detained youth had been diagnosed with depression, the onset of which occurred after their incarceration.  Their poor mental health and the conditions of confinement make it more likely that these kids will engage in self-harm behavior or attempt suicide. Economists have shown that incarcerating youth will reduce their future earnings and ability to maintain stable employment.  One study found that detaining youth (ages 16-25) reduced their work time by as much as 30% for the next decade.  Furthermore, educational researchers conclude almost 40% of detained youth have learning disabilities and will face significant challenges in trying complete their education after detention.

The third concern is the disproportionate effect of detention of minorities.  In 2003, minorities accounted for 61% of all detained youth in the United States.  Even in a state like Pennsylvania, 85% of whose overall population is white, minorities accounted for over half of the youth in detention.  In 2003, African-Americans were detained at a rate 4.5 times higher than white youth and Latino youth were detained twice as much as whites.  This disparity does not exist because minorities are committing more crimes than Caucasians.  In fact, surveys from the late 1990’s showed Caucasian youth used and sold drugs at the same rates as other races, yet African-Americans were detained twice as much as Caucasians for the same offenses.  It is believed Caucasians’ greater access to legal representation and the stereotypes held by the people involved in the decision to detain youth account for part of the inequality.

The high detention rates of youth is a serious problem in America today, and unfortunately it does not have a clear, simple fix.  One thing that scholars and researchers do agree on, however, is the need for a comprehensive reform of the juvenile justice system.

Source:

Barry Holman and Jason Zeidenberg, The Dangers of Detention: The Impact of Incarcerating Youth in Detention and Other Secure Facilities, Justice Policy Institute (Apr. 1, 2016), http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/06-11_REP_DangersOfDetention_JJ.pdf

The Cost: Juvenile Incarceration

By: Nicole Danner

Tens of thousands of juveniles are detained for the first time each year, which too often leads to a long-term pattern of involvement with the criminal justice system.  As much as $88,000 of state and federal tax dollars each year are spent to incarcerate a single juvenile for 9 – 12 months, totaling a combined amount of $5 billion among the states.

Critics argue the current juvenile criminal justice system is less than optimal.  Detention leads to a decrease in high school completion and an increase in adult incarceration.  Although intended to be short in duration (one to two months), such detention can be very disruptive.  For example, once incarcerated, juveniles are unlikely to ever return to school.  A recent study found juvenile incarceration decreases the chances of high school graduation by 13% – 39% and increases the chances of incarceration as an adult by 23% – 41% (as compared to the average public school student in the same area).

Comparing U.S. rates to those of other developed countries revealed not only does the U.S. have the highest rates of juvenile incarceration (336 per 100,000) but the rate is approximately five times higher than those of South Africa, the country with the second highest rate (69 per 100,000).  Equally alarming is the racial disparity among U.S. juveniles in detention facilities:  Of the approximately 70,000 juveniles in a detention facility each day, 68% are of racial minority.

Following events involving the police and unarmed black individuals in Ferguson, Cleveland and New York, as well as the “Black Lives Matter” campaign, moral and legal questions remain about the treatment of minority juveniles.  Some research and advocacy organizations have noted a “cascade of disparities” throughout the criminal justice system (i.e. uneven policing) making it much more likely young black males will be confronted, arrested and detained.  This has the potential to exacerbate already existing inequalities experienced by minorities because a criminal record and the experiences associated with time in the criminal justice system undermine educational and working lives.

Critics of the current system offer a few solutions to the overall high rates of juvenile incarceration, such as, electronic monitoring or enforced curfews.  Critics also suggest that the policies providing additional support and resources for at-risk juveniles should be put in place to help reverse the low rates at which juveniles return to school after being detained.  Additionally, critics suggest that policies increasing police presence in schools – which leads to an increase in juvenile arrests for relatively minor infractions – should be reconsidered.  It is argued that such policies are likely to lead to an increase in juvenile detention, therefore the continued use and expansion of such policies has the potential to reduce high school graduation rates for affected juveniles.

A restructuring of the current system may be in order.  However, how to approach such restructuring remains undecided.  Do we scrap detention centers all together?  Do we try electronic monitoring or enforced curfews?  Is a more structured, rehabilitative approach more beneficial?  Is there a problem with current policies?

Regardless of the answer, the current system appears to hinder the affected juvenile’s ability to lead successful lives free of future involvement with the criminal justice system; further, it does not aid such juveniles in successfully graduating.  This leaves one final question: is this a desirable end result?

Source:

John Wihbey, Juvenile incarceration and its impact on high school graduation rates and adult jail time, Journalist’s Resource (last updated February 4, 2015), http://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/juvenile-incarceration-long-term-consequences.

Alternative Schools and Race: Their Contribution to The School-to-Prison-Pipeline

By: Kelli Swain

“The School-to-Prison-Pipeline is one of the greatest causes of racial and economic inequality in the Unites States.”  It is a either a direct or indirect path from school to prison.   The student can either be arrested and charged for school misbehavior, or they can be pushed out of school through exclusionary school discipline policies. Race is one of several contributing factors that facilitate the pipeline.

Suspension rates have risen across all racial groups; however, the spike has been most dramatic for children of color.  These children are more likely to be arrested at school than the white children, even when both have committed the same offense.  California is a state that is representative of such a trend.  There seems to be a direct correlation between school systems pushing out both black and Latino students and their entrance into the criminal justice system.  This correlation was determined by considering two factors: (1) 70% of prison inmates are school dropouts; and (2) black and Latinos represent more than 70% of the state’s prison population.  Interestingly, this trend has nothing to do with students of color displaying higher rates of misbehavior than white students; rather it infers that those children are simply punished more for those behaviors.

A School’s use of exclusionary discipline policies, such as suspensions and expulsions, are also a huge contributor to the pipeline.  They force children out of the school and onto a path that usually ends in incarceration, because even when the students return after suspension or expulsion, often they feel stigmatized and begin to fall behind in their studies, which eventually leads to a decision to drop out altogether.  Students forced out of regular school and placed into alternative schools often face a more significant stigma.

Alternative schools are not an acceptable replacement for regular school.  Academics at these schools can be, and mostly are, inferior to academics at regular schools.  Some of these schools are run by private companies, which allows them the exemption from many educational accountability standards, which in turn may cause a failure to provide a proper education to those students who may actually need it the most.  This results in the students going back to their regular school completely unprepared, or the system passes them from the alternative school into the juvenile justice system; neither outcome is acceptable.

Alternative schools are not an acceptable alternative for disruptive students’ education and should be dismantled, with a more appropriate alternative considered or created.  By dismantling these alternative schools, we can attempt to disrupt the School-to-Prison-Pipeline in hopes of eventually eliminating it.

Source:

Jonathon Arellano-Jackson, Court Igniting Change: But What Can We Do?  How Juvenile Defenders Can Disrupt The School-to-Prison-Pipeline, 13 Seattle J. Soc. Just. 751 (2015)

Student Discipline in Wisconsin and the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Adding Fuel to the Fire

By: Dwight Quichua

The school-to-prison pipeline is a term coined to show how students are being forced out of public schools and introduced to the juvenile and adult justice systems.  A policy enacted by public schools that facilitates juveniles to the pipeline is the use, more specifically, the overuse, of school discipline.  Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick’s article Children in School: Student Discipline and the School-To-Prison Pipeline explores the effect student discipline in Wisconsin public schools has in pushing students through the pipeline.

In Wisconsin, the two most prevalent forms of discipline by public school officials are suspension and expulsion.  These officials have considerable authority to discipline their students. So long as the student and parents of the students are given due process, and the discipline is not discriminatory-based, then such discipline is considered reasonable.

For suspensions, the school district must inform the student and his parents of the reasons for suspension along with giving parents prompt notice of the suspension.  No legal review is available aside from appealing to a school district administrator.  For expulsions, which can be indefinitely or permanently, the threshold to expel a student is minimal.  The school district must show the facts alleged are true, one of the expulsion grounds is met, and the expulsion is in the best interest of the school.  As long as the school gave written notice with specifics as to the student’s alleged conduct, the relevant statutes involved, the rights afforded to the student, the time and place of the hearing, and that the hearing may result in expulsion from school, these expulsion decisions are per se not reviewable.

If a student is expelled, his options for continuing education are restricted basically to seeking admission into a private school or another public school (though admission is not guaranteed), or by resorting to a home-school education.  Without an opportunity for education, what is next for an expelled student?

In Wisconsin, and throughout the United States, students of certain racial and ethnic groups are disproportionately subject to school discipline.  A letter on the “Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline” was issued by the Department of Justice and Department of Education in January 2014 and has provided excellent guidance on the correlation between student discipline and the school-to-prison pipeline.  Data shows an extraordinary racial disparity with regards to the administration of student discipline.  African-Americans are three times more than likely to suffer suspension or expulsion than their white peers.  In addition, over half of the arrests or law enforcement referrals involved either African-American or Hispanic students.

Finally, the data shows school discipline has contributed significant negative outcomes, both in education and in the long-term, and has aided in the facilitation of the school-to-prison pipeline.  The data also shows negative effects of school discipline on students, such as disengaging academically, behavior issues, turning to drug abuse, and lastly, dropping out of school and into the juvenile justice system.

The guidance letter points out specific practices by schools that are prohibited, and even proposes certain remedies for schools that use such discriminatory discipline techniques.  For advocates of schools eliminating these discriminatory discipline practices, this guidance has been essential.  Yet, as the author suggests, the advocacy must continue, with the vital assistance of school officials, in order to reduce or eviscerate the school-to-prison pipeline.

Source:

Jeffrey D. Spitzer-Resnick, Children in School: Student Discipline and the School-to-Prison Pipeline, 87 Sep. Wis. Law. 38 (2014).

School Resource Officers: A Holistic Approach to the Problem

By: Shannon Pascal

An ABA Joint Task Force recently identified School Resource Officers (“SROs”) as one of the causes of the school-to-prison pipeline.  It claimed that SROs: 1) create a hostile environment in schools which alienates students; 2) arrest students for harmless crimes like disorderly conduct; and 3) take the role of disciplinarian away from educators.  The Joint Task Force argued that, in combination with implicit bias, the presence of SROs at schools results in the disproportionate punishment and attendant educational disruption of students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students.  As a result, students from those groups are academically disadvantaged, and more likely to suffer from poverty and other troubles later in life.

Among the possible solutions to the negative effects of SROs on students considered by the Joint Task Force were specialized training programs for SROs and guidelines dictating which student violations warrant SRO intervention.  However, the Joint Task Force points out that part of the problem with the presence of SROs may be the attitude students have towards law enforcement personnel.  It stated that, “strict security measures . . . can harm the educational climate by alienating students and generating mistrust . . . lead[ing] to even more disorder and violence.”[1]  Therefore, any solution to the negative effect of SROs should address students’ attitudes towards SROs.

Addressing student attitudes is easier said than done.  SROs play multiple roles in schools.  They are law enforcement officers as well as mentors and educators.   One of the problems with the way student view SROs is that they often have a hard time seeing SROs as anything but law enforcement officers.  This difficulty prevents students from approaching and interacting with SROs in those more positive roles.

However, even in their law enforcement capacity, SROs can still fall short.  According to a recent study by Theriot and Orme, there was no difference in students’ feelings of safety in schools with an SRO and those without one.  The researchers believe that this might be due to the fact that roughly 75% of student did not or rarely interacted with their school’s SRO, and many students did not even know what their SRO did at the school.  Theriot and Orme also suggest that school culture may play a role in how student view SROs.

The school-to-prison pipeline is a troubling phenomenon.  As the Joint Task Force states, there are no easy solutions.  Preventing the negative effects SROs have on students is no exception, and we must look not just at the function SROs play in schools, but also towards finding ways of changing how students view their SRO.

Sources:

Sarah E. Redfield & Jason P. Nance, The American Bar Association Joint Task Force on Reversing the School-to-Prison Pipeline Preliminary Report, American Bar Association Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice, Criminal Justice Section, and Council for Racial & Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline (2016).

Matthew T. Theriot & John G. Orme, School Resource Officers and Students’ Feelings of Safety at School, 14 ʏᴏᴜᴛʜ ᴠɪᴏʟᴇɴᴄᴇ & ᴊᴜᴠ. ᴊᴜsᴛ. 130 (2016).

The Need to Close the School-to-Prison Pipeline

By: Jessica Miraglia

In 2010, schools across the United States suspended more than three million (3,000,000) students from school. At this same time, the schools also referred more than two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) students to local police departments who issued misdemeanor citations to the students. Using these procedures of suspension and police intervention forces the children out of school, and pushes them towards the criminal justice system. This is known as the school-to-prison pipeline. Unfortunately, school funding cuts, police officers being present in schools, and zero tolerance policies only make matters worse.

The school-to-prison pipeline has affected children with disabilities, children of minority races, and children who identify as LGBT the most. Three times more African-American students are suspended than Caucasian students, and African-American and Latino students make up seventy percent of the cases referred to local police departments for citation issuance. Children with a disability are twice as likely to be suspended, and children who identify as LGBT are one and one half times more likely to be suspended.

When these students are suspended, they are not in school, and therefore they are not learning. School officials are merely giving the children permission to not attend school. Additionally, suspension is an early predictor of inevitable school drop out. School drop out leads to a higher chance of unemployment, dependence on welfare, and imprisonment in the child’s future. When school officials are suspending children, they are encouraging the growth of the school-to-prison pipeline.

In order to help eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline, schools across the United States have implemented discipline procedures that minimize suspensions and police intervention. A few states, including Colorado and Maryland, also passed states laws that restrict suspensions and expulsions. Training school personnel is very important, especially on cultural awareness and diversity. School personnel need to build healthy relationships with the students and be open to helping them, rather than pushing them out and into the school-to-prison pipeline. Getting to the root of the disciplinary problem is more important than punishment. Suspending children is the easy way out on the front end, but can cause major problems in the future.

Source:

Mary Ellen Flannery, The School-to-Prison Pipeline: Time to Shut it Down, neaToday (January 5, 2015), http://neatoday.org/2015/01/05/school-prison-pipeline-time-shut/

Preventing Abuse to Youth Offenders in Juvenile Detention Centers

By: Matthew Jandrisavitz

While society should be protected from youth offenders, these juvenile law breakers should not be exposed to violence or inhumane treatment while they are paying their debts to society in juvenile detention centers. However, this is in fact the case. Often, such violence comes from other juvenile detainees, but sometimes it may come at the hands of correctional officers. In the 1990’s, studies were done that showed widespread violence and abuse throughout juvenile detention facilities. Examples of such violence include physical and sexual abuse and excessive use of force and restraint by corrections officers. Since these youths are isolated from their families, and are unaware of how to report such crimes, these actions go unpunished.

Studies reported by the Anne E. Casey foundation show that African American children are almost five times as like to be incarcerated as Caucasian youth, and Latino and American Indiana are between two and three times as likely to be incarcerated. Therefore, the majority who are incarcerated in juvenile facilities and exposed to such violence are minority children.

In her article, Shining a Light:  The Need for Independent Oversight in Juvenile Justice Facilities and Reform of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Christine Bella addresses these issues and the barriers preventing youth who are detained in juvenile correctional facilities from reporting these injustices. The youth that are being exposed to such violence, lack the knowledge of how to report the violence that occurs to them. These individuals are easily influenced by others around them.  They are subjected to the criticisms of other children within the detention facilities and must refrain from reporting such violence or risk the consequences, including: being exposed to more violence, threats by other children or corrections officers, or being deprived of privileges within the detention centers.

In her article, Bella asks that more oversight be provided in order to prevent these injustices. She acknowledges that most juvenile detention facilities are left to police themselves with minimal oversight from other governmental agencies. She acknowledges that the Department of Justice is one entity that oversees juvenile facilities, yet their resources compared to the large number of juvenile detention facilities’ nationwide leaves many youths unprotected. It is necessary to employ more individuals to actively oversee each of the facilities in the United States and make sure that our youth are not being mistreated. The violence that occurs to youth within juvenile facilities is a big problem within our country and Bella proves a good point that increased oversight over each of these facilities is necessary in order to reduce the problem.

Sources:

Christine Bella, Note, Shining a Light: The Need For Independent Oversight in the Juvenile Justice Facilities and Reform of the Prison Litigation Act, 27 J. Civ. Rts. & Econ. Dev. 655 (2015).

Anne E. Casey Foundation, Youth In Incarceration in the United States, (February 26, 2013), http://www.aecf.org/m/infographics/aecf-YouthIncarcerationInfographic-2013_(dragged).jpg

Anne E. Casey Foundation, No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration, (October 4, 2011), http://www.aecf.org/resources/no-place-for-kids-full-report/.

A Paradox in Juvenile Detention

By: Nick Fiaschetti

Part of the attraction of law school for me was knowing that I would not have to do math. As I’ve now come to find out in fact, the running joke in the legal community seems to be how bad most attorneys are at doing math. With that said, I never considered myself incapable of grasping mathematics. I actually got mostly straight A’s in math in high school; I simply just don’t care for working with numbers. I am now concerned, however, that maybe I really am bad at math. Looking at recent juvenile incarceration statistics has me scratching my head for answers. I’m now going to report some numbers, and hopefully someone can help me add all this up.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2014, over one-million individuals under the age of 18 were arrested across the United States. In that same year, of those under 18 who were arrested, 63% were white and 34% were black. I typically avoid buying into racial stereotypes and most rhetoric on racial issues, but even I’ll admit I was almost relieved to see the numbers here. Maybe law enforcement and the justice system are not as racially biased as many would have you believe. Certainly if 63% of all those arrested in 2014 were white, this is evidence that police officers are not simply targeting all minority youth children. As relieved as I was to see these numbers, that relief gave way to only confusion as I kept digging.

While it does appear that more white youth are arrested when compared to other groups, there is a staggering decline in actual detention rates. The U.S. Department of Justice reported in 2013, that for every 100,000 individuals simply living in the U.S., 464 of those individuals were black youth under 18 incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility. Stated differently, for every 100,000 people living in a geographic area, 464 of those individuals will be incarcerated black youth. This same statistic for white youth is only 100 for every 100,000. And this is where my head starts to hurt.

I’m not great at math, but I’m decent enough to know that something doesn’t add up here. How can 63% of all juvenile arrests made be for white youth, but have overwhelmingly more black youth actually incarcerated? One conclusion may be that the crimes committed between the different racial youth groups are different. While there are statistics that show certain demographics are seemingly more likely to commit certain offenses, the numbers really don’t explain the staggering difference in arrest rates compared to actual incarceration rates. The DOJ reported in 2013 that of those incarcerated for criminal homicide, only 18% were white youth, while 48% were black youth. In that same year, of those incarcerated for sexual assault, 53% were white youth, and only 26% were black youth. Homicide and sexual assault are serious offenses which carry serious penalties with them. And while the numbers do indicate a demographic inclination towards certain crimes, these numbers simply do not explain how there can be such a staggering difference in actual incarceration rates. Something seriously doesn’t add up.. As I said, I tend to stay away from most racial stereotyping and rhetoric, but when I see incarceration rates that simply do not match arrest rates, I’m left with few conclusions that don’t point to the justice department having a lot of explaining to do.

Sources:

U.S. Department of Justice, OJJDP Statistical Briefing BookOJJDP Statistical Briefing Book, April 27, 2015.  OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/corrections/qa08205.asp?qaDate=2013

U.S. Department of Justice, OJJDP Statistical Briefing BookOJJDP Statistical Briefing Book, April 27, 2015.

http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/corrections/qa08201.asp?qaDate=2013

U.S. Department of Justice, OJJDP Statistical Briefing BookOJJDP Statistical Briefing Book, December 13, 2015.

http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/qa05101.asp?qaDate=2014

U.S. Department of Justice, OJJDP Statistical Briefing BookOJJDP Statistical Briefing Book, December 13, 2015.

http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/qa05104.asp?qaDate=2014

A Structural Racism Approach to the School-To-Prison Pipeline Problem

By: Jocelyn Schultz

The statistics are concerning for the disproportionate number of minorities in prison. Thirty-two percent of black males and seventeen percent of Latino males are incarcerated during their lifetime, compared to the six percent of white males. Additionally, forty-two percent of black males occupy death row. In regards to the school system, contemporary schools disproportionally punish minority students. About twenty to thirty percent of blacks and Latinos account for all twelfth-grade suspensions and expulsions. As a result, students of color are disparately being transferred from schools to prisons. This transfer has been categorized as the “school-to-prison pipeline.” The phrase, “school-to-prison pipeline (“pipeline”),” categorizes the ambiguous, yet systematic, process through which a wide range of education and criminal justice policies and practices collectively result in minorities being disparately pushed out of schools and into prisons.

Two concepts encompass the pipeline effect: zero-tolerance policies and educational tracking. First, schools have expanded zero-tolerance policies. As a result, adolescent behavior becomes a punishable offense, which provides grounds for both school and criminal sanctions. Second is educational tracking, which is the practice of separating students into different ability groups such as gifted or non-gifted groups where students get particularized academic instruction. By separating students, it disproportionately places minority students into lower tracks. This is harmful not only because these students are not getting the specialized academic instruction but because these students are often subjected to instructional methods that stimulate disruptive behavior. Both zero-tolerance policies and educational tracking reveal the pipelines inter-institutional character: tracking minority students leads to disruptive behavior and results in suspensions, expulsions, or incarceration.

As a result of these policies and practices, the pipeline gives rise to a number of legal claims because these practices are very harmful to minority youth. Equal protection claims are among those claims, because minorities are being pushed out of schools. The Note explains two different approaches in evaluating these claims: the motive-centered approach and the structural racism approach. The Note explains how taking a structural racism equal protection approach provides an alternative approach for courts to use by taking critical race theory and science systems into account. The approach analyzes and evaluates historical and inter-institutional processes in order to determine how they result in racial harm, creating a more expansive approach to equal protection. Since criminalization, sorting, and economic polices and practices come together to deny minorities opportunities by pushing them out of school and into prison, the Note suggests that courts use a structural racism approach because it protects minorities more adequately than a motive-centered approach.

Source:

Chauncee D. Smith, Deconstructing the Pipeline: Evaluating School-To-Prison Pipeline Equal Protection Cases Through a Structural Racism Framework, 36 Fordham Urb. L.J. 1009 (2009).