View Full Version : Education The Shocking Details of a Mississippi School-to-Prison Pipeline

12-05-2012, 05:01 PM
By Julianne Hing (http://www.alternet.org/authors/julianne-hing)

Wearing the wrong color socks, talking back and being late landed young Cedrico Green in jail. The Justice Department says there are many more students like him:
“[D]efendants engage in a pattern or practice of unlawful conduct through which they routinely and systematically arrest and incarcerate children, including for minor school rule infractions, without even the most basic procedural safeguards, and in violation of these children’s constitutional rights,” the DOJ’s 37-page complaint reads. Meridian’s years of systemic abuse punish youth “so arbitrarily and severely as to shock the conscience,” the complaint reads.

The federal lawsuit casts a wide net in indicting the systems that worked to deny Meridian children their constitutional rights. It names as defendants the state of Mississippi; the city of Meridian; Lauderdale County, which runs the Lauderdale County Youth Court; and the local Defendant Youth Court Judges Frank Coleman and Veldore Young for violating Meridian students’ rights up and down the chain.

The DOJ’s complaint also charges that in the course of its eight-month investigation the city blocked the inquiry by refusing to hand over youth court records. Attorneys for city officials deny that claim, and say they are bound by law to protect the confidentiality of youth who’ve been through the system and so cannot share their records with the federal government.


12-05-2012, 05:03 PM
Release of youth court records sticking point in DOJ suit (http://meridianstar.com/local/x699470722/Release-of-youth-court-records-sticking-point-in-DOJ-suit)

By Terri Ferguson Smith / tsmith@themeridianstar.com Meridian Star (http://meridianstar.com)

As to the claim that local officials have been uncooperative, Rick Barry, attorney for Lauderdale County, said they have cooperated.

"We have tried to cooperate from day one," Barry said. "We still thought we were trying to cooperate. We thought we had a conference call set up this morning (Thursday). We were going to try to deal with the issue but we've told them from day one that we cannot turn over to you the confidential juvenile records short of a consent of a parent or an adult or a federal court order. We've been consistent in that."

Barry also referred to a letter sent to the DOJ in March from the Mississippi Attorney General's Office regarding the release of information.

The letter, from Harold E. Pizzetta III, assistant Attorney General for the Mississippi Attorney General's Office, said: "State law governs to whom and under what circumstances the Administrative Office of the Courts may release those records. Providing confidential youth court records in response to your letter would be contrary to state law."

Barry said the DOJ is aware of the situation the officials are in.

"We cannot do that and they know that," Barry said. "To say that we have been uncooperative, I just don't think that's a correct statement because we have."

12-05-2012, 05:08 PM
Here's a wikipedia entry for a timeline of children's rights in the US: