Researcher ORCID Identifier

Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Professor Costanzo

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Many scholars have hypothesized the existence of a school to prison pipeline (STPP) – a phenomenon that describes how particular school policies and practices have inadvertently created a pathway from schools to the juvenile criminal system. The pipeline disproportionately affects certain communities and has serious short- and long-term consequences for students. This paper explores the validity of the hypothesized pipeline and examines three underlying mechanisms: zero-tolerance policies, school safety, and school culture. After reviewing the research literature on these three mechanisms, I conclude that there is evidence for both STPP risk and STPP protective factors embedded within the school system. This paper reviews case studies of STPP program initiatives in several school districts and concludes that there is sufficient support for the existence of the pipeline. Specific recommendations for educators, schools, and researchers are discussed. By understanding the underlying factors and the complexities of the STPP, greater work can be done to dismantle the pipeline and to provide a more inclusive and equitable education.