The Intersection of Punitive Policies and Institutional Racism: A Call for Educational Punishment Reform

In the 1990's, the Clinton administration implemented the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in response to an uprising in criminal activity throughout the United States (Mallet, 2016b; Scott & Steinberg, 2008). Defined as the largest crime bill in American history, this controversial bill implemented punitive polices that not only impacted adults, but America's youth as well. Federal incentives urged School districts across the country to implement these tough on crime policies, which overtime took discipline out of the school administrator's hands and placed it onto the criminal justice systems lap. As student were no longer being given reasonable corrective actions such as detention or counseling for minor violations of the code of conduct, they were now being expelled and referred into the juvenile court system at alarming rates. Findings support that the implementation of these punitive policies has lead to one of the reasons the school to prison pipeline is still relevant today. This mixed methods research study highlights the possibilities and impact that is perceived through the implementation of rehabilitative campus models which utilize counseling, therapeutic training, and supportive models, versus the harsh punitive models that exercise the use of severe disciplinary actions such as expulsions and suspensions. Based on previous research studies, the Teske model leads the educational model reform by doing away with punitive policies and School Resource Officers, replacing them with supportive entities and elements such as counselors and student workshops. In all, this study illustrates the relationship between punitive models and the incarceration rates of colored youth.

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