Over the past generation, episodes of mass school violence in American public schools have led to the “prisonization” of schools. The problems associated with prisonization practices have been identified and well-documented in the legal literature over the past few years, and they include the school-to-prison pipeline, as well as the over-policing of vulnerable populations like students with disabilities and African-American and Latino children. This piece seeks to contribute to existing literature in two ways. While national attention has turned to the lack of rigorous research on the effectiveness of prisonization practices, and studies are underway to identify whether prisonization practices are effective deterrents to crime in around schools and the effects on school climate (students’ learning, self-perceptions, etc.), gaps in a full picture of this alarming trend exist. First, the piece coins the term prisonization to describe the practices that reflect our tragic willingness to value security over individual rights despite the reality that school violence is relatively rare but also there is no evidence at this time to support the likelihood that prisonization practices actually diminish school violence. Second, the piece argues that America should abandon the prisonization of public schools in favor of more effective methods to prevent school violence. Applying the theoretical presumption that in our democracy, individual liberty outweighs security unless a true need arises to tip the scale of Constitutional analysis in the other direction, this piece offers policy suggestions that align with evidence-based risk factors.
Hofstra Law Review
The Prisonization of America's Public Schools,
Hofstra Law Review
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