DOJ Sues Mississippi over “School to Prison” Pipeline

Alleges African-American and disabled students systematically targeted, rights violated

Ella Townsend of Meridian, Miss., said she worries that if her
son, Lionel, 13, gets in trouble at school again, he could be
sent to prison and do time with dangerous adults. 
(Photo: Maggie Lee / Juvenile Justice Information Exchange)

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday sued the state of Mississippi, the city of Meridien, the county and several state agencies, alleging they “help[ed] to operate a school to prison pipeline” that routinely violated the rights of African-American children and children with disabilities in the city of Meriden.

“As a result,” the court filing states, “children in Meridien have been systematically incarcerated for allegedly committing minor offenses, including school disciplinary infractions, and are punished disproportionately without due process of law. The students most affected by this system are African-American children and children with disabilities.”

Specific allegations include handcuffing, arresting and “incarcerat(ing) for days at a time without a probable cause hearing, regardless of the severity—or lack thereof— of the alleged offense or probation violation; not providing “meaningful representation” to the juveniles during the justice process; making the children “regularly wait more than 48 hours” for a probable cause hearing; and not advising children of their Miranda rights before the children admit to formal charges.

Students can be incarcerated for “dress code infractions such as wearing the wrong color socks or undershirt, or for having shirts untucked; tardies; flatulence in class; using vulgar language; yelling at teachers; and going to the bathroom or leaving the classroom without permission,” the Associated Press reports.

There is a lot more to this report from the Common Dreams staff.  Please click here to read about the school to prison pipeline and how it affects predominately poor, black students.

Not reported in this article are questions about how these imprisoned young blacks are used essentially as slave labor in the factories of the privatized prisons–as explained by Bob Sloan in a number of his reports on the prison system and prison privatization published on this site and at the Daily Kos.