Report: Mississippi's School-to-Prison Pipeline Hurts Students

Black public school students in Mississippi are facing extreme discipline practices that may hinder their achievement.

Every year, thousands of Black kindergarteners enter the public school system in Mississippi, but many will not reach the success of graduating from high school, and instead will be pushed towards imprisonment. Public school students in this state, face extreme discipline that will hinder their achievement, according to a study by the Advancement Project called "Handcuffs on Success."

The research states youth are being forced into juvenile detention centers for minor behavior problems such as "dress code violation, profane language, or a schoolyard scuffle." The U.S. Department of Justice filed a suit against the state of Mississippi in October 2012 for this "harsh" operation.

The "Handcuffs on Success" study reports:

Mississippi schools arrest students and refer students to juvenile detention centers at high rates, and do so mostly for typical adolescent, non-violent behavior. For example, in one of Mississippi’s largest school districts, Jackson Public Schools, only 4% of arrests on school grounds during the 2010-2011 school year were for behavior that actually posed a serious threat to students, staff, or the school. In fact, the most prevalent offense, accounting for about one-third of arrests on school grounds, was the vague and subjective offense of “disorderly conduct.”

Mississippi’s Black students are hit the hardest by harsh discipline practices. Statewide, they are three times more likely to receive an out-of-school suspension than their white peers, with an even greater disparity in some school districts. In Lawrence County, for example, Black students are eight times more likely to receive an out-of-school suspension than white students.

Mississippi students are also more likely to receive an out-of-school suspension than students in its neighboring states of Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, or Arkansas. Among Mississippi’s school districts, several have the dishonor of maintaining out-of-school suspension rates that are over nine times higher than the national average.

Read the full report here.


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