Why We Fight and Why We Need Solutions Not Suspensions
Today the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the city of Meridian, Miss.; Lauderdale County, Miss.; judges of the Lauderdale County Youth Court; and the state of Mississippi for helping "operate a school-to-prison pipeline in which the rights of children in Meridian are repeatedly and routinely violated."
From the press release:
"As a result, children in Meridian 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. The practices that regularly violate the rights of children in Meridian include:
- Children are handcuffed and arrested in school and incarcerated for days at a time without a probable cause hearing, regardless of the severity – or lack thereof – of the alleged offense or probation violation.
- Children who are incarcerated prior to adjudication in the Lauderdale County system regularly wait more than 48 hours for a probable cause hearing, in violation of federal constitutional requirements.
- Children make admissions to formal charges without being advised of their Miranda rights and without making an informed waiver of those rights.
- Lauderdale County does not consistently afford children meaningful representation by an attorney during the juvenile justice process, including in preparation for and during detention, adjudication and disposition hearings."
Our friends and OTL allies at the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP and the Meridian branch of the NAACP were responsible for helping bring the situation in Meridian to the Department of Justice's attention, so hats off to them for their advocacy work.
Learn more about the egregious system of youth incarceration in Meridian here. And check out Solutions Not Suspensions, a national call for a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions and an end to school pushout. Let's keep students in the classroom rather than pushing them out of school, and let's make sure each and every one of them has the resources they need to succeed.