This issue describes how school policies can have the effect, if not the intent, of setting youths on the "prison track." It also identifies programs and policies that can help schools maintain safety and order while simultaneously reaching out to those students most in need of structure, education, and guidance. Offering a balanced perspective, this issue begins to point the way toward less punitive, more effective, hopeful directions.
This is the 99th volume of the quarterly journal New Directions for Youth Development.
1. Defining and redirecting a school–to–prison pipeline (Johanna Wald, Daniel J. Losen)
Many have drawn troubling connections between increasing racial disparities among those youths who are most severely sanctioned in schools and in the juvenile justice system. This chapter offers a framework for reviewing new research about how schools either contribute to, or prevent, the flow of students into the criminal justice system.
2. Predictors of suspension and negative school outcomes: A longitudinal investigation (Linda M. Raffaele Mendez)
Proponents of the frequent use of suspension argue that it deters misbehavior and improves the learning environment. This extensive longitudinal study belies the myth to both of those claims.
3. Connected in Seattle? An exploratory study of student perceptions of discipline and attachments to teachers (Johanna Wald, Michal Kurlaender)
The voices of students are frequently absent from the debate regarding racial disparities in school discipline. Using survey data collected from high school students in Seattle, Washington, this study offers an exploratory analysis, disaggregated by race, of how students perceive the fairness of the discipline administered by their teachers and whether they feel connected to any teachers in their school.
4. Punishing dangerousness through preventive detention: Illustrating the institutional link between school and prison (Ronnie Casella)
This ethnographic study describes the growing use of preventive detention in schools, a practice that relies on excluding and sending to outplacements students disproportionately poor and minority who are subjectively viewed as potentially dangerous. This practice often starts these youths on the prison track by assigning them to programs that do not meet their educational goals and may have institutional links to prisons.
5. High–poverty secondary schools and the juvenile justice system: How neither helps the other and how that could change (Robert Balfanz, Kurt Spiridakis, Ruth Curran Neild, Nettie Legters)
A close examination of a cohort of high school students who pass through the educational and juvenile justice systems of a large mid–Atlantic city reveals that the progression of school to prison, to dropout, to the streets is not inevitable. Instead of working together to provide those students most at risk of incarceration with intense educational supports, the educational and juvenile justice systems frequently create conditions that exacerbate these students academic problems.
6. Deconstructing the pipeline: Using efficacy, effectiveness, and cost–benefit data to reduce minority youth incarceration (David M. Osher, Mary Magee Quinn, Jeffrey M. Poirier, Robert B. Rutherford)
Money spent on enlarging the juvenile justice system and building more prisons is likely a bad investment. The benefits of many, but not all, early intervention programs in schools could save a great deal in both human and monetary costs.
JOHANNA WALD is senior development/policy analyst for the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University.
DANIEL J. LOSEN is a legal and policy research associate with the Civil Rights Poject at Harvard University.