The U.S. Department of Justice sued several government agencies in Mississippi last week, saying they systematically violate the due process rights of juveniles and are thus operating a “school to prison” pipeline in the area.
The Justice Department said children in Meridian, Miss., are routinely jailed for minor offenses, including school discipline incidents, and are punished disproportionately without due process. Black students and students with disabilities are especially affected.
The suit charges that the city of Meridian, Lauderdale County, judges in Lauderdale County Youth Court, and the state of Mississippi are all involved.
The Justice Department says that children are arrested in school and incarcerated for days without a probable cause hearing, regardless of the severity of their alleged offense; regularly wait more than 48 hours for a probable cause hearing in violation of federal constitutional rights; and make admissions to formal charges without being advised of their right to remain silent. The county is also charged with inconsistently providing meaningful representation by a lawyer during the juvenile-justice process.
A version of this article appeared in the October 31, 2012 edition of Education Week as Miss. Cited in Lawsuit Over Juvenile Arrests