U.S. Accuses Meridian, Mississippi, in First “School-to-Prison Pipeline” Lawsuit

Saturday, October 27, 2012
Judge Frank Coleman, senior presiding judge of Lauderdale County Youth Court

Already the focus of a longstanding desegregation case, the town of Meridian, Mississippi, is being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for policies that have perpetuated a “school-to-prison pipeline.”


The civil rights lawsuit, filed against the city of Meridian, Lauderdale County, judges of the Lauderdale County Youth Court, and the state of Mississippi, alleges that officials have systematically ignored the due process rights of juveniles, primarily African-American and disabled ones, violating the Fourth, Fifth and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.


Children have been jailed for committing minor offenses, including school disciplinary infractions such as farting in class and wearing the wrong colored clothing.


The civil complaint followed a seven-month investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Southern Mississippi.


That probe uncovered numerous illegalities, including children being arrested in school and incarcerated for days at a time without a probable cause hearing. Also, it was revealed that children had made confessions without being read their Miranda rights and having a chance to waive those rights.


Meridian’s school district was not named a defendant in the case. However, the district has been accused for years by the Civil Rights Division’s Educational Opportunities Section of not fully desegregating its schools and programs.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Justice Department Files Lawsuit in Mississippi to Protect the Constitutional Rights of Children (U.S. Department of Justice)

US: Arrests in East Miss. Violate Students' Rights (by Holbrook Mohr, Associated Press)

U.S.A. v. City of Meredian et al (pdf)

Mississippi Town Struggles with 'School to Prison Pipeline' Charges (by Maggie Lee, Center for Public Integrity)


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