A Mississippi town is facing a lawsuit for operating schools that handcuff and send children to prison for minor classroom infractions like violating the dress code or talking back to teachers.Students in the town of Meridian sometimes spent days in a prison 80 miles away from their school without a probable cause hearing. They were not read their Miranda rights and sometimes spent more than 48 hours waiting for a hearing, which violates their constitutional rights.Meridian police routinely arrested students without determining whether there is probable cause of an infraction or whether the school wants to press charges. Handcuffed, the students were sent to Rankin County youth detention center, which is about an hour and a half away by car.Students were jailed for “dress code infractions such as wearing the wrong color socks or undershirt, or for having shirts untucked; tardies; flatulence in class; using vulgar language; yelling at teachers; and going to the bathroom or leaving the classroom without permission.”Furthermore, all of the imprisoned schoolchildren referred to court were minorities, the lawsuit states. More specifically, the “school-to-prison pipeline” mostly affected African-American children and those with disabilities.After being arrested, students are usually put on probation, sometimes without appropriate legal representation, the lawsuit claims. Students who are already on probation and violate more school rules could face suspension – time that would be spent at the detention center rather than at home.Federal civil rights lawyers filed the lawsuit two months after the Justice Department warned local and state officials that they had 60 days to cooperate with an eight-month investigation into the jailing procedures. The Mississippi town failed to cooperate.
The town is clearly in the wrong, and their failure to see that and to pretend to give a damn is appalling. Kids should be learning their legal rights in school, but not through having them violated and those actions upheld by the town.
This is what happens when abuse of power goes too far. It's also what happens when government fails to see the difference between serving the people and controlling them. Kids are constantly learning, even when they don't realize it. In this case, the lesson is what you see when government goes wrong. Let us hope they eventually learn better.
This is nothing less than conditioning our young to give up their rights, to be afraid to speak up when their rights are violated. We simply cannot allow this to happen.