First Advisor

Carma Corcoran

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Criminology and Criminal Justice and University Honors


Criminology and Criminal Justice


Discrimination in education, Educational equalization, Minority students, School discipline -- United States, African American boys -- Education -- Social aspects, Imprisonment -- United States




In the United States, mass incarceration is a way of life. In this literature review, the link between harsh policies in schools, punishment, and later odds of incarceration are explored- with a special interest on the disproportionate impact for students of color. Through literature reviews and analysis, I will examine the primary causes of the school-to-prison pipeline (STPP). The researchers examined spanned many disciplines (education, to criminology, to psychology) and methodological approaches, including qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method. The findings were near unanimous; policies in schools that sought to punish or enforce zero-tolerance were disproportionately punitive toward students of color, most notably Black students. In an effort to mitigate this, most studies found that educating teachers and administrators on implicit bias and empathy-based corrections found a dramatic decrease in punishments being delivered, with the largest percentage change being with Black students. My thesis ends with a close look at a few local programs working to mitigate the STPP, and a suggestion for further research.


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