DOJ investigates 'school to prison pipeline' in Meridian - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

DOJ investigates 'school to prison pipeline' in Meridian

Posted: Updated:
MERIDIAN, MS (WLOX) -

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division says an investigation has revealed that children in Meridian have had their rights repeatedly violated by the Lauderdale County Youth Court, the city police, and the state division of youth services.

That report from the Justice Department calls it a "school to prison pipeline" where students are incarcerated for disciplinary issues as minor as "dress code violations, flatulence, profanity, and disrespect."

The report says the Meridian Police would automatically arrest any students referred to them by the schools, then the court would place the students on probation and order any school suspensions be served at a juvenile detention center.

Also in the findings letter, the Civil Rights Division noted, "Lauderdale County and the Youth Court Judges Violate the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments by Failing to Provide Children Procedural Due Process in the Youth Court Process. Lauderdale County, the Youth Court Judges, and the Mississippi Division of Youth Services Violate the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments by Failing to Provide Children Procedural Due Process Rights in the Probationary Process."

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments protect against abuse of government authority in legal proceedings and fairness of due process rights respectively.

Justice Department alleges that mostly African American children and children with disabilities are impacted by the unconstitutional polices taking place in Meridian.

"The systematic disregard for children's basic constitutional rights by agencies with a duty to protect and serve these children betrays the public trust," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

The investigation into the alleged wrongdoings goes back to December. Officials with the court and the Meridian Police Department have not commented.

An attorney with the City of Meridian says the police department is cooperating with the investigation.

"We have provided voluminous documents and allowed DOJ attorneys to interview Meridian Police Department personnel without any reservations," City Attorney Ronnie Walton said. "The City of Meridian is committed to assisting the Meridian Public School District in providing a safe learning environment for our children and we believe we have done so without violating anyone's constitutional rights."

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Body found in 18 wheeler on I-20

    Body found in 18 wheeler on I-20

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:15 PM EDT2014-07-23 02:15:18 GMT
    The body of an unidentified man was found inside an 18 wheeler, Tuesday night. It happened at the weigh station on Interstate 20 westbound in Warren County. The State Highway Patrol and Warren CountyMore >>
    MDOT enforcement officers went to check out a suspicious vehicle that had not moved all day.
    More >>
  • Coroner: Girl's body was found in abandoned trailer's bathroom

    Coroner: Girl's body was found in abandoned trailer's bathroom

    Friday, July 18 2014 3:26 PM EDT2014-07-18 19:26:33 GMT
    It's been an extremely difficult day for family and friends as well as officers. So many people were crying, upset as the body of 5-year-old Janaya Thompson was removed from an abandoned trailer.More >>
    It's been an extremely difficult day for family and friends as well as officers. So many people were crying, upset as the body of 5-year-old Janaya Thompson was removed from an abandoned trailer. Coroner Gary Hargrove said Janaya's body was found in a bathroom.More >>
  • Biloxi approves ballpark construction bid

    Biloxi approves ballpark construction bid

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 6:53 AM EDT2014-07-23 10:53:07 GMT
    The Biloxi City Council met Tuesday to discuss the next step in seeing the first pitch thrown at MGM Ballpark. The Council pushed forward to approve a construction bid.More >>
    Construction of the new MGM Ballpark in Biloxi could get underway as soon as mid August. The city council met Tuesday to discuss the next step in seeing the first pitch thrown at MGM Ballpark. The council pushed forward to approve a construction bid.More >>
Powered by WorldNow

208 DeBuys Road
Biloxi, MS 39531
(228) 896-1313

FCC Public File
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WLOX. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.