National Center for Youth Law


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Publications – April-Jun 2015

Better than zero alternative discipline replacing zero tolerance





Better Than Zero: How alternative discipline is replacing zero tolerance to break the school-to-prison pipeline
Advocacy & Communication Solutions

The notion of breaking the school-to-prison pipeline has been gaining a great deal of national attention recently and the conversation has gained traction. In this new Advocacy & Communication Solutions analysis:

  • Provides an overview of the current national conversation;
  • Highlights a sample of state actions to end the school-to-prison pipeline; and
  • Offers a closer look at how research is proving the flaws in zero-tolerance policies.


California Department of Social Services: Although Making Progress, It Could Do More to Ensure the Protection and Appropriate Placement of Foster Children
California State Auditor

The California Department of Social Services (Social Services) oversees the efforts of counties to protect California children from abuse and neglect. When these agencies determine that children’s safety is at risk, they have the authority to remove them from their homes and place them with relatives, foster parents, or group homes. Social Services is taking steps to improve its oversight of these placements, but it needs to take more action to resolve deficiencies we identified in the past. In October 2011 the California State Auditor issued a reported titled Child Welfare Services: California Can and Must Provide Better Protection and Support for Abused and Neglected Children, Report 2011-101.1. The 2011 audit report included a recommendation to improve the safety of foster children by creating an address comparison process to ensure that registered sex offenders are not living or working among them. Furthermore, the 2011 audit made several recommendations to address counties’ increased reliance on foster family agencies—typically private nonprofit organizations that recruit and certify foster homes, and that are more expensive than placements with relatives or with foster homes licensed by Social Services or counties.


Sexual Abuse Pipeline






The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story
The Human Rights Project for Girls, Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, and the Ms. Foundation for Women

Many girls who experience sexual abuse are routed into the juvenile justice system because of their victimization. Indeed, sexual abuse is one of the primary predictors of girls’ entry into the juvenile justice system. A particularly glaring example is when girls who are victims of sex trafficking are arrested on prostitution charges — punished as perpetrators rather than served and supported as victims and survivors.

Maltreatment of Youth in U.S. Juvenile Corrections Facilities





Maltreatment of Youth in U.S. Juvenile Corrections Facilities: An Update
The Annie E. Casey Foundation

This report, released as a follow-up to No Place For Kids, introduces new evidence on the widespread maltreatment of youth in state-funded juvenile corrections facilities. It tells of high rates of sexual victimization, the heavy-handed use of disciplinary isolation and a growing roster of states where confined youth have been subject to widespread abuse. The four-year update is in — and the news is not good.

The Social Structure of Criminalized and Medicalized School Discipline
David Ramey, The Pennsylvania State University, Department of Sociology and Criminology

In this article, the author examines how school- and district-level racial/ethnic and socioeconomic compositions influence schools’ use of different types of criminalized and medicalized school discipline. Using a large data set containing information on over 60,000 schools in over 6,000 districts, the authors uses multilevel modeling and a group-mean modeling strategy to answer several important questions about school discipline. The results generally support hypotheses that schools and districts with relatively larger minority and poor populations are more likely to implement criminalized disciplinary policies, including suspensions and expulsion or police referrals or arrests, and less likely to medicalize students through behavioral plans put in place through laws such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. However, results from cross-level interaction models suggest that district-level economic disadvantage moderates the influence of school racial composition on criminalized school discipline and medicalization.