CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Heise & Nance on Race and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Michael Heise and Jason P. Nance (Cornell Law School and SMU Dedman School of Law) has posted How Race Informs the School-To-Prison Pipeline: An Empirical Perspective on an Indirect Pathway on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Background/Context: While empirical research consistently finds that increases in a school’s SRO/police presence correspond with increases in the rate of school referrals of student disciplinary incidents to law enforcement agencies, direct evidence of distributional concerns across various student subgroups is scant.

Focus of Study: This study considers whether student racial effects directly inform school decisions about whether to have an SRO/police presence and, in so doing, indirectly inform school law enforcement reporting activity.

Data/Research Design: This study analyzes data from the School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS), the nation’s leading dataset on public school crime, at three different junctures spanning one decade. We executed a generalized structural equation modeling strategy (SEM) exploring various correlates, including a school’s percentage of Black students, on the school’s total number of student disciplinary referrals to law enforcement and whether this effect is mediated by a school’s decision to include a SRO/police presence.

Findings: While increases in a school percentage of Black students do not directly correspond with increased school law enforcement reports, a school’s percentage of Black students may indirectly do so by influencing school decisions to include a SRO/police presence.

Conclusion: Previous studies focusing more narrowly on school law enforcement reporting outcomes (counts or rates) may miss the indirect ways in which student race might inform school decisions to engage law enforcement in student disciplinary matters.

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