#WoWaWildBookClub – The School to Prison Pipeline and the Prison Industrial Complex

When I think about this topic I completely cringe from the inside out. We’re talking about how we have set up systems to take kiddos, babies really, and set them up for failure. It makes me sick. But it’s a problem that feels overwhelming and unsolvable by little ol’ me. I am so determined to learn more about this topic to see how I can do my part in dismantling this system and creating safe futures for all of our children. I hope you are too. Let’s get learning!

xx Chels

Thank you again to Becky Woodruff and Katie Fox for their incredible support and expertise in this process.

Theme: The School to Prison Pipeline and the Prison Industrial Complex
Reading: Chapters 21 – 22

Submit responses to your reflection in the #WoWaWildBookClub Session 4 Form or find the form at the bottom of this page.


1. Following Starr’s and Seven’s fight with Hailey and her brother, all four are suspended. Williamson has a zero-tolerance policy, referring to a predetermined consequence for an action or circumstance, regardless of context. For example, a school might have a zero-tolerance weapons policy, so if a student brings a butter knife to school to eat their packed lunch, they would be suspended or even expelled in accordance with school policy. (This example has genuinely happened in the real world.)

What are the flaws of a zero-tolerance policy? What role does context play in this confrontation in The Hate U Give? In real-world instances? What role do zero-tolerance policies play in the school to prison pipeline?
Now think about mandatory minimum sentencing: judges are required to hand down a minimum sentence to individuals who are convicted of certain crimes, regardless of context. How does this compare to zero-tolerance policies in schools? How does this relate to racial justice?

2. On p.369, Maverick tells Seven, “I’m proud of you, man. Like I told you, I never got a diploma. A lot of young brothers don’t get theirs. And where we come from, a lot of them don’t make it to eighteen. Some do make it, but they’re messed up by the time they get there.”Black students are more likely to be punished and to face harsher punishments than white students for the same actions. Often, these punishments entail exclusion from the school community (such as out of school suspension and expulsion). How might these practices lead to the trauma and early death Maverick alludes to in the second half of his statement?

Reflect on the school to prison pipeline and the prison industrial complex. If you’re not familiar with them, take a moment to learn more; there are some great resources for both listed below. Where and how do these entities come into play in The Hate U Give?

What are some ways students, parents, teachers, administration, and community stakeholders can work to dismantle the school to prison pipeline?

Here are ways outside of the book that you can explore this topic with podcasts, videos, articles and social media!


1. Justice in America podcast

2. Ear Hustle podcast


1. 13th directed by Ava DuVernay (currently available free, no subscription necessary)

2. What a World Without Prisons Could Look Like TED Talk


1. A Conversation with Michelle Alexander OR An Evening with Michelle Alexander*
(*this is available as a free webinar but requires users to register for access; the transcript of the webinar is available without registration)
2. Advancement Project School to Prison Pipeline Infographic (a download)
3. Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline in Colorado and Nationally


1. Critical Resistance: @C_Resistance on Twitter and @criticalresistance on Instagram
2. TGI Justice Project: @tgip on Twitter and @tgijustice on Instagram
3. Legal Services for Prisoners with Children: @LSPC_ on Twitter and @allofusornon on Instagram


1. The Freedom Archives
2. Project Implicit

What other resources do you have to share? Any thoughts on the resources listed above?

Leave a Reply