Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Susan Semel

Subject Categories

Other Education


Mass Incarceration, School-to-Prison Pipeline, Equity, Disproportionality


Strict law and order policies, due to the War on Drugs, enacted in the 1970's have led to the mass incarceration that continues to plague communities of color. Simultaneously, zero tolerance policies in the nation’s schools have helped to fuel the mass incarceration of people of color by ensuring that students of color are disproportionately disciplined via suspended or expelled, criminalized, and eventually funneled into prison. This paper analyzes how the School to Prison Pipeline reinforces the disproportionate incarceration of people of color by targeting students of color. It identifies the rise and implementation of zero tolerance policies in the nation’s schools. Moreover, it explains how the use of propaganda was used to justify the deliberate targeting and criminalization of people of color, while simultaneously garnering funds and encouraging popular support for discriminatory practices when targeting poor communities of color. Additionally, it goes on to analyze how zero-tolerance policies have negatively impacted students of color. It explains an analysis of how zero tolerance policies, which was enacted to develop a more conducive learning environment, has instead, served as a conduit for students of color to be funneled into the criminal justice system; therefore, reinforcing the disproportionate incarceration of students of color. And lastly, it offers possible solutions such as restorative justice programs in schools or alternative vocational programs to help alleviate the discriminatory policies that funnel students of color onto a one-way path toward prison.



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