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Abstract

Recent scholarship on the school-to-prison pipeline has zeroed in on the disturbing trajectory of black girls. School officials impose harsh punishments on black girls, including suspension and expulsion from school, at alarming rates. The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights reveals that one of the harshest forms of discipline—out of school suspension—is imposed on black girls at seven times the rate of their white peers. In the juvenile justice system, black girls are the fastest growing demographic when it comes to arrest and incarceration. Explanations for the disproportionate disciplinary, arrest, and incarceration rates for black girls range from implicit bias by school and law enforcement officials to structural risk factors, like poverty. Scholars point to disproportionate discipline, arrest, and incarceration rates as evidence of a system that fails black girls by pushing them out of school and into the juvenile justice system, thereby ultimately placing them at risk for a range of adverse life experiences.

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