BYU Education & Law Journal


John Marinelli


school-to-prison pipeline in Maryland, criminal prosecution for in-school misbehavior, Maryland school law and disciplinary practices


In 2016, a Salisbury, Maryland eighth grader left class without permission and ran through the halls of his middle school. As punishment for his adolescent defiance, the boy was not sent home or suspended but rather pepper-sprayed, handcuffed, and criminally prosecuted.

This episode exhibits the harsh realities of a school-to-prison pipeline that annually funnels thousands of Maryland students into the criminal justice system as a consequence of in-school misbehavior. Criminal interaction of this sort negatively affects children in numerous well-documented, often disastrous ways. To improve these circumstances in Maryland, three contributing factors stand out as ripe for change: the state’s disturbing school law, the practice of suspending or expelling students for nonviolent disruptions, and the statewide requirement of school policing.