Alaska Justice Forum 30(1), Spring 2013

The Spring 2013 issue of the Alaska Justice Forum includes five articles related to school discipline and the juvenile justice system. The issue also includes updates on Alaska Victimization Survey data releases, faculty and staff news, and a memorial to retired Justice Center faculty member Dr. Lawrence C. Trostle, who died in May 2013.

"Juvenile Justice, School Discipline, and Zero Tolerance"

This article introduces a special issue of the Alaska Justice Forum focusing on school discipline in relationship to juvenile justice, particularly on the impact of the "zero tolerance" policies that emerged from the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994.

"Trends in Juvenile Delinquency, School Suspensions, and Expulsions"
by André B. Rosay and Marny Rivera

This article provides a context for a discussion of school discipline issues by examining recent juvenile delinquency data for Alaska and looking at the rates for school suspensions and expulsions. The number of juveniles referred per 10,000 population, rate of referrals, and rate of offenses referred to the Alaska Division of Juvenile Justice have all shown marked declines since 2003, while the rate of suspensions and expulsions reported in 2010-2011 increased strikingly from those reported for prior school years .

"School Discipline and the Zero Tolerance Approach" by Dean Williams

This article explores the expansive breadth of research on the issue of school discipline, especially with regard to the zero tolerance approach to firearms in schools or other student disciplinary infractions. School expulsion and suspension for many years has been endorsed as not only appropriate, but essential to maintain school safety and harmony. Extensive research, from a vast array of sources, has challenged some long-held notions about school discipline and school safety. An accompanying bibliography provides complete citation information and URLs for research cited.

"Does 'Zero Tolerance' Work? Alternatives to Out-of-School Suspension and Expulsion"
by Carol Comeau

The policy of zero tolerance, which came out of the federal Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, mandates out-of-school suspensions for firearms in schools, and has been applied to a number of additional student disciplinary infractions, resulting in increased out-of-school suspensions and expulsions. This article describes the effects of zero tolerance on the Anchorage School District, the efforts of the school district and a number of agencies to address the issue of juvenile crime and school discipline, and the programs that grew out of that collaboration.

"Zero Tolerance and Juvenile Justice: A View from the Bench" by William D. Hitchcock

One of the principal factors that may often precipitate a plunge into the juvenile justice system is the failure to maintain and succeed in school. Today there is growing concern that the policies of many school districts of zero tolerance for firearms in schools or other student disciplinary infractions place many youth out on the street and vulnerable to high risk behavior and delinquency. This article describes the link between educational failure and juvenile crime and the need for the appropriate response to wrongful behavior by youth.

"StepUp: Helping Kids with Discipline Problems Stay in School" by Barbara Armstrong

This article describes StepUp, a diversion program for expelled or long-term suspended high school students developed in 2009 by the Anchorage School District and the Alaska Division of Juvenile Justice. StepUp provides a highly structured voluntary program that includes academics, anger management training, physical activities, and community work service for students who have had serious discipline problems. Over 80 percent of the 101 students in StepUp from 2009 to 2013 have continued their education. The program was expanded in 2011 to include middle school students.

"Juvenile Justice and School Discipline Resources"

A bibliography of publications and other resources on school discipline in relationship to juvenile justice, with an emphasis on the "zero tolerance" policies that emerged from the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994.

"Update on Alaska Victimization Survey Data Releases"

Summaries of estimates of violence against women in Alaska are available on the Alaska Victimization Survey (AVS) web page. AVS, launched in 2010, is an ongoing effort to gather reliable and valid estimates of intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women in Alaska.

"In Memoriam"

Dr. Lawrence Trostle, a member of the Justice Center faculty from 1990 to 2009, died in May 2013 after an illness. Research publications and papers by Dr. Trostle can be viewed at the Justice Center website.

"Faculty News"

Dr. Brad Myrstol, Justice Center faculty and director of the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center (AJSAC), has been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor and awarded tenure.


Alan McKelvie, Senior Research Associate for the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center (AJSAC), has retired.

"Recent Publications"

Recent publications of UAA Justice Center faculty and staff.