On-campus law enforcement officials (e.g., school resource officers) and ‘zero tolerance’ policies for minor infractions of codes of conduct are the primary mechanisms connect-ing students to corrections systems (Mallett, 2016). This pathway is often called the ‘school-to-prison-pipeline' (Mallett, 2016).
School resource officers (SROs) are “sworn law enforcement officers responsible for safety in schools” that can make arrests, respond to calls, and document campus incidents (USDOJ).
‘Zero tolerance’ (ZT) refers to a strict disciplinary approach that removes students from school to curb violence and drug use on campus. It can also be applied to minor offenses such as truancy and class disruption (Monahan, 2014).
Security measures such as security cameras, metal detectors, and regular or random searches along with bias based on ability, sex, gender identity, and race also affect the number of students sent into the corrections system (Mallett, 2016; Sorenson, 2021).
Suspensions and arrests are used disproportion-ately for Black students (USDOE, 2014). Hispanic, Pacific Islander, American Indian/ Alaska Native, multiracial students, and students with disabilities also have higher suspension rates than White students (USDOE, 2014; de Brey, 2019).
Students who have been suspended are more likely to dropout, fail classes and standardized tests (Chu, 2018). While suspended, students are twice as likely to be arrested (Monahan, 2014). High numbers of suspensions/expulsions are associated with increased risk of recidivism to juvenile detention (Novak, 2022).
Policies promoting positive social and professional support, and trust between students and staff may improve learning outcomes (Mallett 2016). Many states have recently advanced policies to reduce the use of corrections in schools, but evaluation of program efficacy is still lacking for many.
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U.S. Department of Justice (2022). Supporting safe schools. Community Oriented Policing Services. https://cops.usdoj.gov/supportingsafterschools. Accessed in November 2022.
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