Document Type


Publication Date



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.

Publication Title

Hofstra Law Review





First Page


Last Page



Public School, Criminal Infrastructure, School Violence, Mass School Shootings, School to Prison Pipeline



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.