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Criminal Justice

Refer to the School Discipline sub-section under the K-12 Education section for available research reports on Criminal Justice.

In 2003, The Civil Rights Project launched a three-year initiative, the School to Prision Pipeline, focusing on the "pipeline" that is tracking certain high-risk, minority children directly from school into the criminal justice system. This pipeline includes both in-school practices--such as high stakes testing, inadequate special education placements, resource and curriculum inequities, and harsh disciplinary codes--and recent law enforcement trends that treat juveniles, particularly minorities, with increasing harshness for both major and minor offenses.

All communities, regardless of color or class, should enjoy both low rates of juvenile crime and high rates of student achivement. With that goal in mind, we will work in concert with advocates, educators, and policy analysts to redirect the flow of this pipeline away from increasingly punitive regimes of social control. We hope, instead, to help chart a path of prevention, intervention and support that leads toward greater opportunity and succes for at-risk juveniles.

Officials at the district level often set policies regarding school discipline ("zero tolerance"), special education, and voluntary desegregation efforts, not the federal government in Washington, DC. State legislators, state school boards and state attorneys generally influence such policies as testing and accountability for failing schools, sentencing and parole practices, and juvenile justice procedures. Federal programs such as the recently reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act have widespread impacts at the state and local level, but in education and most other arenas there is a pattern of "cooperative federalism" which leaves countless important policy choices in the hands of state and local decisionmakers.

Research Item Keeping California's Kids in School
This report compares this year’s data release covering 2012-13 to the data released last year covering 2011-12. We find a reduction in the use of out-of-school suspension for every racial/ethnic group.
Research Item Suspended Education in California
This report and companion spreadsheet covering nearly 500 districts reveals to the public the unusually high levels of risk for suspension as well as the stark differences in discipline when these risks are presented by race, gender and disability status.
Research Item The School-to-Prison Pipeline
In this comprehensive study of the relationship between American law and the school-to-prison pipeline, co-authors Catherine Y. Kim, Daniel J. Losen, and Damon T. Hewitt analyze the current state of the law for each entry point on the pipeline and propose legal theories and remedies to challenge them. Using specific state-based examples and case studies, the authors assert that law can be an effective weapon in the struggle to reduce the number of children caught in the pipeline, address the devastating consequences of the pipeline on families and communities, and ensure that our public schools and juvenile justice system further the goals for which they were created: to provide meaningful, safe opportunities for all the nation’s children.
Research Item Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis
In order to better understand the issues of efficacy and fairness in the use of out-of-school suspension, we first must answer two questions: How frequently is suspension being used in our schools? Are there significant differences in the frequency of suspension when we look at subgroups of children by race/ethnicity and gender? This report, published by the Southern Poverty Law Center with research by CRP Senior Law and Education Policy Associate Daniel Losen and Indiana University Professor Russell Skiba, is designed to help answer these questions.
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