The Department of Justice is accusing Lauderdale County, Mississippi of running a school-to-prison pipeline, having any student who is accused of violating a school policy automatically put in juvenile detention under often terrible conditions. CNN reports:
The federal agency’s civil rights division seeks “meaningful negotiations” in 60 days to end the constitutional violations or else a federal lawsuit would be filed against state, county and local officials in Meridian, according to a Justice Department letter dated Friday to those officials.
The letter also names two Lauderdale County Youth Court judges, Frank Coleman and Veldore Young…
“The systematic disregard for children’s basic constitutional rights by agencies with a duty to protect and serve these children betrays the public trust,” Thomas E. Perez, assistant U.S. attorney general, said in a statement. “We hope to resolve the concerns outlined in our findings in a collaborative fashion, but we will not hesitate to take appropriate legal action if necessary.”…
On Friday, the U.S. Justice Department accused Meridian police of automatically arresting all students referred by the city’s public schools and then sending them to the county juvenile justice system, “where existing due process protections are illusory and inadequate,” the federal letter says.
The police department command staff and officers characterized their agency as a “taxi service” for the schools and juvenile detention facility, without assessing the circumstances of the alleged charges against students, the Justice Department said.
“The Youth Court places children on probation, and the terms of the probation set by the Youth Court and DYS require children on probation to serve any suspensions from school incarcerated in the juvenile detention center,” the Justice Department letter said.
The juvenile detention system in America should be a matter of enormous shame, but no one much cares — mostly because it tends to be poor and minority kids there.