The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges has published guides aimed at addressing “school pathways to the juvenile justice system,” which is also knows as the school-to-prison pipeline:
- School Pathways to the Juvenile Justice System Project: A Practice Guide (“School Pathways Practice Guide”) explains the process that can be used by courts, schools, and communities to reduce the number of juvenile court referrals from the schools.
- School Pathways to the Juvenile Justice System: The Context for a Practice Guide for Courts and Schools (“School Pathways Technical Assistance Bulletin“) gives data about the impact of zero tolerance policies on both school suspensions/expulsions and the number of referrals to juvenile courts.
The School Pathways Practice Guide noted that “[t]he practices resulting from zero tolerance policies do not align with current research suggesting that school involvement is a protective factor against juvenile delinquency,…suspension and expulsion can lead to juvenile delinquency,…and early introduction to the juvenile justice system can increase the likelihood of later juvenile justice system involvement.” “Zero tolerance policies contribute to higher drop-out rates, lower graduation rates, increased contact with the juvenile justice system, lower statewide test score outcomes, and lower ratings of the school environment….”
Sixteen demonstration sites were selected to participate in the School Pathways Project, including Tippecanoe County Superior Court in Lafayette, Indiana. Each will receive assistance in identifying issues with school referrals to the court system and strategic planning to address those issues.