School to Prison Pipeline: Why is our youth being funneled from public school to jail?

“In 2014, the law school’s Public Policy Clinic released a report, “From Fingerpaint to Fingerprints: The School-to-Prison Pipeline in Utah.” What they found was the discipline handed down to some students was simply funneling them out of public schools and into the criminal justice system “through a combination of overly harsh zero-tolerance school policies and the increased involvement of law enforcement in schools,” according to the law school.” (Reavy)

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

In the world today, We teach the younger generations so they can gain the necessary knowledge to survive in the world and become successful. Now on the outside it appears this process is working and benefiting the students greatly. However, in many areas across the country, school systems set their students up to fail. The lessons they teach are more about discipline than knowledge, kids are suspended more than they attend their classes and more than 3/4 of these kids are African-American or another minority in the area they live in. This situation that I have just described is called the School to Prison pipeline and it is happening right under our noses.

What is the School to Prison Pipeline?

School to prison pipeline is about discipline of African Americans in high school and lack of access to education that sets them up for a life in the margin, life of crime, and headed straight to prison. In general, black students are disciplined more, removed from valuable class time, and denied educational opportunities that will keep them off the streets…prejudice and profiling/stereotyping by teachers are huge factors. I first became aware of this issue when my mother was hired by a school in Antioch, CA to teach. The original policies and disciplinary actions to be conducted if a student acts up went straight to suspension, the students rarely showed up to class and teachers and students never interacted. However, my mom and a group of other teachers took a stand. Just by reaching out to these kids and showing that they cared, the school did a complete 180,

How prevalent is this Issue?

Now while this does sound like the typical success story, research suggests that this problem is more prevalent than we think. In the article “ State lawmaker wants to break school to prison ‘pipeline’ “ by Pat Reavy, specifically talks about the pipeline in Utah but presents information that applies to the whole situation in general. Utah is one of the states where this issue is very prevalent however, the school to prison pipeline an issue that goes on in every state across America. The article presents information about the harsh disciplinary actions that are taken when one of these students acts up. These students are being pulled away from valuable class time and away from learning due to schools mishandling these situations. Kids do not deserve a public record for getting into an argument on campus. Zero-tolerance policies are used to show students that no bad behavior will be tolerated. However schools are able to find loopholes in this policy to discipline kids in whatever ways they see fit.

What can be done to stop this issue?

In the article, “School to Prison Pipeline by Amber McTerry, the main focus is the solutions to this problem. Many ways we can find solutions to this problem is by noticing that their is one. This issue is continuously popping up in urban inner city schools because too many kids get expelled and then give up on school, leading them down a path that originally we are told to stay away from. One way to help these students who are at risk is by opening up more after school programs and by convincing more qualified teachers to me and teach at these schools. Another is too change the schools disciplinary policies. Schools use the policies to throw the kids right to the authorities and let them decide the punishment. School districts need to focus on not sending the students straight from school to prison. By dealing with the matters in house, it will allow the kids to work on their issues and problems without being taken away from their learning.


When people were young kids, they were always taught to go and achieve your dreams. Go out and be the best you, you can be. School is the place where kids learn how to cope with these ideas and to learn what to listen to and what not to listen too. If administrators feel they have the right to take away a kids education or even send them to the police which is starting them on a bad life already, then that needs to change and can change if we show how prevalent this issue is. In the end, this situation can only be solved if people show they care. The students feel like they have nowhere to go in life to begin with. The teachers to give them that mindset, they enhance it. The one thing that needs to be done to start this rebuilding process is outreach. If schools show the students that they are important, then they will fell and want to act important and in line.

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