Zero Tolerance Policies
Courtney A. Wade
In recent years, increased arrests of minority youth on school property have led juvenile justice policymakers to conclude that specific practices related to federal and state zero tolerance policies have become a significant source of disproportionate minority contact (DMC) and confinement. Originally enacted in the early 1990s to counter the increase in violent tendencies among youth as well as the fear of an increase in firearm-related incidents in schools, zero tolerance policies have become applicable to nearly all rule-breaking behavior that occurs on school grounds. In many cases, children punished in accordance with these policies are deemed by administrators as “stepping out of line.” Public school systems throughout the United States utilize zero tolerance policies, which call for severe punishments for all offenses, even transgressions minor in nature. The ideal behind these policies is deterrence from rule-breaking behavior through equal punishment for all offenders. Thus, schools use zero tolerance policies ...