The findings by the Mississippi Department of Justice expose this latest case of Jim and Jane Crow-ism to the world with its findings that Black students were being disproportionately targeted for a ‘School to Prison’ pipeline.
Meridian police automatically arrest public school students when called by school officials, often without determining if there is probable cause. Students are then put on probation, sometimes without proper legal representation, and are required to serve any subsequent suspensions from school in the juvenile detention center.
The system has led to students being incarcerated in the detention center for dress code violations, flatulence, profanity, and disrespect.
“The students most severely affected by these practices are black children and children with disabilities in Meridian,” the Justice Department said in a letter to Mississippi’s governor, attorney general and various officials in Meridian and Lauderdale County.
“These entities, working in conjunction, help to operate a school-to-prison pipeline that routinely and repeatedly incarcerates children for school disciplinary infractions,” the letter alleged.
If the matter isn’t corrected soon, the Department has said it will sue the Lauderdale County Youth Court, the Meridian Police Department and the Mississippi Division of Youth Services, a division of the state Department of Human Services.
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According to the Huffington Post, this report is the result of an 8-month investigation. Though two Lauderdale County Youth Court Judges, Frank Coleman and Veldore “Vel” Young, said they would cooperate, they allegedly “consistently denied DOJ access to information about the policies and practices” of the court and directed the city of Meridian to deny the department access to files concerning children.”
Read more at The Equal Justice Initiative.