Civil Rights and the School-to-Prison Pipeline in Indiana

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, December 2016

The Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a report following a series of panel discussions on school discipline policies and practices in the state. The Committee’s purpose was to examine the civil rights impact of school discipline and juvenile justice policies, which may lead to high rates of juvenile incarceration—particularly among youth of color, boys, and students with disabilities—in what has become known as the “school-to-prison pipeline.” The Committee heard testimony from academic experts and education professionals; community advocates; juvenile corrections officials; and individual students and families directly impacted.

Through this testimony, the Committee identified a number of concerns regarding the role of intersecting biases in implementing disciplinary measures in schools; the adverse impact of poverty on students’ academic success, which disproportionately affects children of color; and exclusionary disciplinary policies and practices that may exacerbate disengagement, particularly among youth of color and youth with disabilities. The Committee also identified a number of recommendations for the Commission’s consideration, which may help to remedy some of these concerns moving forward.

According to the press release on the report, which cites work by CHHIRJ’s Johanna Wald:

Committee Chair Diane Clements-Boyd said, “This report… chronicles how school disciplinary policies and practices lead to low educational attainment and the funneling of Indiana’s most vulnerable students into the criminal justice system. The report also provides comprehensive recommendations and best practices from leading researchers, educators and community advocates, in hopes of keeping children in quality learning environments and consequently preventing the criminalization of children.”

Read Report