The phrase "school to prison pipeline" has surged in recent years, to describe how school discipline policies, law enforcement policies, and a context of mass incarceration intersect to "track" disproportionate numbers of young people -- young people of color, in particular -- into prisons.
But repeating the phrase doesn't accomplish much: we need concrete information about how this cycle works. When I worked at the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, I saw various concrete examples: in one school, Latino students wandering the halls were disproportionately referred to the local police department as likely gang members. That meant that a school discipline experience turned into an actual police record.
This interview by author Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, is a useful resource for those exploring the "school to prison pipeline." One quote below:
"The education justice movement and the prison justice movement have been operating separately in many places as though they’re in silos. But the reality is we’re not going to provide meaningful education opportunities to poor kids, kids of color, until and unless we recognize that we’re wasting trillions of dollars on a failed criminal justice system. Kids are growing up in communities in which they see their loved ones cycling in and out of prison and in which they are sent the message in countless ways that they, too, are going to prison one way or another. We cannot build healthy, functioning schools within a context where there is no funding available because it’s going to building prisons and police forces." -Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness