Although several studies have linked exclusionary school discipline (suspension and exclusion) to delinquency and crime, the current study is the first to test a macro-level effect of the school-to-prison pipeline in which “law-and-order” schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods are examined in a separate analysis.
Southern California was used as the research site in examining whether public secondary-school suspensions and expulsions affect various crimes in schools’ surrounding neighborhoods. Several data sets were combined to create block-level data for the years 2004 to 2011. Using blocks as the geographic unit enabled analyses of precise crime locations, which made the observed link between schools and local crime more reliable. Demographic data were obtained from the 2000 and 2010 censuses and the American Community Survey. Block-level data that were not provided by the U.S. Census Bureau were imputed by applying a synthetic estimation for ecological inference. Block group coefficient estimates were used to obtain values at the block level; imputed block-level data were adjusted to sum the value in the block group; and uncertainty was added to the block-level values based on the uncertainty of the block group model. After the block data were obtained, they were linearly interpolated across years. Crime data were obtained from local police agencies in Southern California. School discipline data were counts of suspensions and expulsions by the California Department of Education for school years 2004-2005 to 2010-2011. School data were integrated with longitudinal crime and demographic data for small geographic units (census blocks) in six California counties. The findings generally support the hypothesis that exclusionary school discipline increases local crime from a routine activity perspective. This analysis provides another reason for schools to prioritize in-school detention or other disciplinary alternatives to exclusionary school discipline. 3 tables, 2 figures, and 73 references