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Mississippi County Jails Kids For School Dress Code Violations, Tardiness, DOJ Alleges

Nicole Flatow
Think Progress / News Report
Published: Tuesday 27 November 2012
Once those children are in the juvenile justice system, they are denied basic constitutional rights.
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In Meridian, Miss., it is school officials – not police – who determine who should be arrested. Schools seeking to discipline students call the police, and police policy is to arrest all children referred to the agency, according to a Department of Justice lawsuit. The result is a perverse system that funnels children as young as ten who merely misbehave in class into juvenile detention centers without basic constitutional procedures. The lawsuit, which follows unsuccessful attempts to negotiate with the county, challenges the constitutionality of punishing children “so arbitrarily and severely as to shock the conscience” and alleging that the city’s police department acts as a de facto “taxi service” in shuttling students from school to juvenile detention centers. Colorlines explains:

Once those children are in the juvenile justice system, they are denied basic constitutional rights. They are handcuffed and incarcerated for days without any hearing and subsequently warehoused without understanding their alleged probation violations.

To illustrate how this system works, Colorlines provides the example of Cedrico Green. When he was in eighth grade, he was put on probation for getting in a fight. After that one incident, every subsequent offense was deemed a probation violation — from wearing the wrong color socks, to talking back to a teacher – and the consequence was a return to juvenile detention. He couldn’t even remember how many times he had been back in detention, but guessed 30 times – time when he wasn’t in school, fell behind in his schoolwork and subsequently failed several classes, even though he said he liked school.

The phenomenon of disciplining kids through the criminal justice system is known as the “school-to-prison pipeline” – a  process that paves the way for some kids accused of minor disciplinary violations to spend less time in school, and more time getting exposure to the criminal justice system. Colorlines explains:

A 2010 study by Russell Skiba, a professor of education policy at Indiana University, looked at four decades of data from 9,000 of the nation’s 16,000 middle schools. It found that black boys were three times as likely to be suspended as white boys and that black girls were four times as likely to be suspended as white girls. It is a serious, endemic issue. […]

Research shows that if the intent behind zero-tolerance policies is to discourage misbehavior and foster good learning environments, they don’t do the job. A sweeping 2006 study (PDF) conducted by the American Psychological Association found that zero-tolerance policies don’t actually make schools safer, and in fact can work to push students away from school. If, however, the intent is to push students of color out of school, away from their educational futures and into the criminal justice system, there is also a body of evidence that suggests that zero-tolerance policies are rather effective instruments.



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ABOUT Nicole Flatow

Nicole Flatow is the Deputy Editor of ThinkProgress Justice. Previously, she was Associate Director of Communications for the American Constitution Society. Nicole has also worked for several legal and general circulation newspapers, including The Daily Record and The New York Law Journal, and was a legal fellow at Bread for the City, where she represented low-income D.C. residents in housing and public benefits matters. She received her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, and her B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Law from Binghamton University, where she was editor in chief of her campus newspaper.

Has anybody thought to look

Has anybody thought to look into whether or not there's some financial gain by judges and school officials with this system. This is happening all over the country though most of the time the kids are being sent to private detention facilities. It's discovered later that judges and school officials have stock in these detention facilities. Beyond that possibility, this an outrageous extension of authoritarianism that has to be halted. It's damaging to the kids who are treated in this way. Generally these kids will become delinquents, not docile.

Most of the problem lies with

Most of the problem lies with the shcools and, of course, parents. New findings are showing that good performance at school is predicted by a child's ability to be "self-controlled". (It's not an IQ thing!) Many families do not know the value of self-control and are unable to teach it. Put the kids from these families with others who do know "self-control", and those lacking it will readily identify themselves. Thus, these type of schools are definitely ineffective. If, however, the children without much self control were taken to schools who focused on that, even before academics, these kids might possibly catch up in the long run! Once a child is able to self direct thenselves they are better able to focus on their studies. (Again, it is NOT an intelligence thing!)

The article did not mention

The article did not mention whether the prisons are FOR-PROFIT. If they are, then it it is easy to figure out why this is happening.

For profit prisons have all the wrong incentives. They want to MAXIMIZE the number of prisoners to make more profit, while public prisons want to MINIMIZE the number of prisoners to save money.

Any politician who votes to support private prisons should be tried for treason.

You would think that the

You would think that the objective for these schools is to TEACH ACADEMICS! What message is being taught to these unfortunate students who are subjected to such disgraces and have the misfortune of growing up in a State which usually ranks at or near the bottom of educational test scores, graduation rates, drop-out rates, college acceptance rates...

When Minneapolis allowed open enrollment for all students regardless of their respective school districts, guess what happened? The children of color from impoverished North Minneapolis were allowed to attend schools in high tax base school districts such as Edina and those kids super-excelled in all aspects of educational outcome...equal to and sometimes even surpassing the local "white kids" who had experienced a stellar education from pre K. Further, students developed deeper understandings about how to erase bias, racism, prejudiced and perceived notions and ideas about other ethnic groups...

There is a good reason why Minnesota students finish in the top three States with regard to education (with Iowa, and Wisconsin) while the Mississippi's finish last.

True up to a point. When you

True up to a point. When you bring "undisciplined" kids into a disciplined environment they learn how to focus their attention, however, when the largest group are unable to focus effectively they will not learn how to focus effectively unless the ENVIRONMRNT is changed. One good example is in Military training which often takes borderline students who could not qualify for college. However, they organize every aspect of the recruits life to assist them in learning to focus their attention effectively every minute. Consequently they learn to be effective and even after their Military service continue to function effectively. This can be duplicated in Charter schools, but probably NOT in regular public schools as teachers and administration are NOT educated on how to do this. Of course, those teachers and administrators willing to volunteer could be taught. A perfect example of how inefective a public school can be is illustrated in this article.

True up to a point. When you

True up to a point. When you bring "undisciplined" kids into a disciplined environment they learn how to focus their attention, however, when the largest group are unable to focus effectively they will not learn how to focus effectively unless the ENVIRONMRNT is changed. One good example is in Military training which often takes borderline students who could not qualify for college. However, they organize every aspect of the recruits life to assist them in learning to focus their attention effectively every minute. Consequently they learn to be effective and even after their Military service continue to function effectively. This can be duplicated in Charter schools, but probably NOT in regular public schools as teachers and administration are NOT educated on how to do this. Of course, those teachers and administrators willing to volunteer could be taught. A perfect example of how inefective a public school can be is illustrated in this article.

True up to a point. When you

True up to a point. When you bring "undisciplined" kids into a disciplined environment they learn how to focus their attention, however, when the largest group are unable to focus effectively they will not learn how to focus effectively unless the ENVIRONMRNT is changed. One good example is in Military training which often takes borderline students who could not qualify for college. However, they organize every aspect of the recruits life to assist them in learning to focus their attention effectively every minute. Consequently they learn to be effective and even after their Military service continue to function effectively. This can be duplicated in Charter schools, but probably NOT in regular public schools as teachers and administration are NOT educated on how to do this. Of course, those teachers and administrators willing to volunteer could be taught. A perfect example of how inefective a public school can be is illustrated in this article.

Follow the money! Somebody

Follow the money! Somebody profits from this disgraceful program. My guess is find the local representatives of the Prison Industrial Complex. You can bet he's writing checks or funneling cash to local officials. The 'tell' is the preponderance of Black students sucked into the program. The goal of the program is blatant and apparent. By removing as many Black students as they can from an education track, putting them on a Prison track, they can insure the potential for success for their White students. This tactic is older than America and the DOJ should expose it and issue indictments.

The motive behind their

The motive behind their bullying may be greed or fear. It may be to build up the corrections industry or to protect society from potential harm. In any case, powerful people imposing their will on the weak and powerless is predatory. We can recognize corruption when it shows up as sexual abuse. We can recognize verbal and physical abuse. Can society recognize abuse in the form of creating environments and regulations designed to oppress children (and then blaming the kids when they fall into the traps that lay in wait)?

WOW! Insane. Total

WOW! Insane. Total insanity.

One could try something radical, like . . . . . making school relevant? If the student is interested in pigeons, have them do math studies on population increases, biology on various aspects, the history of pigeons and man or whatever, write about pigeons, read about pigeons, and surprise! That student will be motivated to learn and suck up every aspect of learning BECAUSE they are dealing with a subject they like and are interested in.

We did this in homeschool. Once your kids learn how to learn, how to do critical thinking, media critiquing, they will be prepared to face life.

Critical thinking is

Critical thinking is expressly prohibited from curricula by the legislature of Texas, at least. It certainly takes valuable time away from preparation for standardized tests, as does something as non-standardized as pigeon biology. Some schools have been caught omitting science and social studies and just saying they were included, so as to leave more time for math and reading.

America must feed the beast.

America must feed the beast. The Prison Industrial Complex which is one of the largest U.S. employers.
"Today the United States has approximately 1.8 million people behind bars: about 100,000 in federal custody, 1.1 million in state custody, and 600,000 in local jails. Prisons hold inmates convicted of federal or state crimes; jails hold people awaiting trial or serving short sentences. The United States now imprisons more people than any other country in the world—perhaps half a million more than Communist China. The American inmate population has grown so large that it is difficult to comprehend: imagine the combined populations of Atlanta, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Des Moines, and Miami behind bars. "We have embarked on a great social experiment," says Marc Mauer, the author of the upcoming book The Race to Incarcerate. "No other society in human history has ever imprisoned so many of its own citizens for the purpose of crime control." The Atlantic.

It's all about the $$$. You

It's all about the $$$. You try and discipline your child, you go to jail for abuse. You don't try and they go to jail. Either way, someone has to go to jail so the Private Prisons and private Justice companies can get paid.

There are some things that just should never ever be private, prisons is one of them. It is too easy for these locked up people to be out of sight out of mind. Incarceration like health care cannot be for profit. It is just wrong.

An inmate's (who was

An inmate's (who was sentenced to LIFE as a juvenile) commentary on schools' Zero Tolerance Policies and first ever USDOJ conference on civil rights and school discipline http://www.torvossimpson.livefromlockdown.com/?p=14

Is this a contracted out ie

Is this a contracted out ie private, juvenile detention center? Reminds me of the judge can't remember where, may have been Calif., who was finally caught and convicted (imprisoned) for getting kickbacks for all the kids he sent down the river for bs stuff. The parents raised a stink and that's why he was investigated

It was Pennsylvania. That

It was Pennsylvania. That was a "wonderful" scam going there. The judge throws the book at the kid, the kid is now in lockup and has no idea when they will get out. Juvenile lockup is a private prison with the judges being part owners. One young woman (16 I believe) interviewed said she had been busted for having cigarettes in her purse at school. They were legal for her to buy and she wasn't smoking on school property.

I remember the story. If he

I remember the story. If he was one of the few that got caught, can you imagine how widespread the practice is??

Throw the school officials in

Throw the school officials in the Wolf Pit. Seriously.

HELL I WAS IN HS IN EARLY

HELL I WAS IN HS IN EARLY 70'S, I BROKE EVERY SCHOOL DRESS CODE WRITTEN. THATS HOW WE GOT RID OF DRESS CODE EVERYONE PROTESTED AND BROKE THE CODES. I LIVE IN JAIL AS ALSO THE WHOLE SCHOOL. ILLINOISE SUPREME COURT STATED SCHOOL DRESS CODES WHERE UNCONSTATUTIONAL. IT ENDD SCHOOL DRESS CODE.

IF THE KIDS GET SMART AND GET PARENT BACKING AND ALL VIOLATE CODE FOR A DAY AND HAVE A SIT IN IT GETS, PRESS TIME. COURT TIME THEN SUPREME COURT TIME AND THAT END DRESS CODE. THE SCHOOL CAN NOT ARREST EVERYONE!

This happens all over the

This happens all over the country under republican-dominated school boards and legislatures. This is proven to be causal towards the "dumbing down" and extraordinary high school drop out rates. The biggest lobbying group for consequences of this nature are said to be the Private Prisons that are springing up like an epidemic. Very good article.

Watch the documentary War on

Watch the documentary War on Kids. Mississippi is not the only place that children are being severely disciplined for minor (or imagined) infractions. I was talking with a teacher today whose student was expelled for bringing a toy gun to school. I can think of many better ways to deal with that situation, and I believe you can too. Zero-tolerance policies give zero other options than the prescribed ones that fail children in every sense of the word.

Cann't get a kid's rap sheet

Cann't get a kid's rap sheet started too early. The for profit private prisons need new meat...and lots of it.

November 27 What is their to

November 27
What is their to discuss. Mississipi is at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to racism and renecks. We should not wait for it to ask for cecession. The USA should kick Mississipi out of the Union. They are a disgrace to civilized folks. We don't need them. Because they are full of shit they have the honor, rather the dishonor, of being the poorest of the 50 states of the Union. Kick them out.
Aygen
American citizen living in Istanbul, Turkey

November 28 Most Mississipi

November 28
Most Mississipi whites are "white trash" anyway.
Aygen
Ps. No, I am not black. White as you can get

. . . Gee, aren't "feel good"

. . . Gee, aren't "feel good" laws wonderful....they do more harm than good - but small mined people believe in them...
. . Here in New Jersey is a study about the "red light" cameras . . to make the intersections safer......only they don't Accidents have actually increased, and the damage done is increasingly more expensive....REAR-END accidents INJURIES>>>>BUT someone is making money off them .....

ChetDude Sounds like you

ChetDude

Sounds like you sould go back to Africa if you don't like the "Racist USAmerica". No one is stopping you.

Training the next generation

Training the next generation for life in a police state. Step out of line and the man comes and takes you away.

The issue of the private

The issue of the private detention centers and prisons is worth discussing. It is an accepted practice in those states for private, for-profit prisons to routinely transfer inmates between prisons to keep their census numbers at a profitable point.

I think there is a lot more

I think there is a lot more to this story. Not ONE teacher thought Cedrico Green going to detention 30 times was a problem? Where were his parents? I would think going to the detention center ONE time would have some effect on his behavior? I do not believe anyone went to a detention center for the wrong color socks.

As to that study by Russell Skiba that Black boys were 4 times more likely and Black girls 3 times more likely to be suspended.....I certainly know there is racism still in this country, but again where are the parents? Are ALL the teachers racist? Look at this for example, you have an all Black entertainment channel, but if you had an all White entertainment channel, people would say that is racist. Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson have done a lot of good, but they also make a lot of hay (monetary & publicity) from exploiting supposedly racist situations. It seems likely to me that all this attitude might make its way at least a little bit to the young and contribute to the high suspension rates?

But even more ignored - a very large percentage of Black people live in largely Black communities. With a large percentage of Black teaching staff. It would seem then that a lot of the suspension would be from Black teachers? Just citing statistics without explanation doesn't prove a lot.

And to echo another poster, you can't spank, you can't put kids in the corner, you cannot do so many things for discipline. Perhaps the police is all that is left? This policy did not get put in place by one person either.

Richard, either you are

Richard, either you are totally naive or just dumb as a post! The teachers do not profit from initiating this journey into the Prison Cycle. Someone, further up the chain gets paid by the headcount. Teachers and parents are powerless in this process.
As for Your disdain for Black television networks, it's funny that you would place your focus on them. Maybe where you live, (Mississippi?), you only have White stations and a few Black networks. Here in the rest of America, we have Spanish networks, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Indian and other networks. You see Richard, that's allowed and encouraged in America! Your attempt to shift the blame for this atrocity to parents or teachers is transparent and ridiculous! NO CHILD SHOULD GO TO A JAIL FOR MISBEHAVIOR IN SCHOOL!

Judging from your response to

Judging from your response to this story I would be willing to bet that you are white male living or having grown up in one of the original Confederate States. TX, AK, MS, AL, LA, FL GA, SC, NC, VA and possibly TN, KY or MI and the outside chance you are from CO.
Now all of those states have a history of intense racial prejudices, with CO having had the largest KKK membership of any other state as late as 1925.
Basically, you have been raised to think there is a difference between black and white and brown and yellow and red skinned people. That somehow Black people in particular have less intelligence and are basically lazy, and without any discipline what so ever.
In effect, you sir are a racist and you white sheet is showing. I invite you to go to this link
http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/11/school_prison_pipeline_meridian.html
and you will see that the parents of Master Green were involved, but that didn't seem to make much difference, for after all the boy is colored and therefore, lazy, slothful, insubordinate, and of low academic aptitude, in MS.
Of course if he play foot ball for Ole Miss, well he is aces.

Ignorance is not really

Ignorance is not really bliss. Michigan (MI) was NOT a Confederate state. Its soldiers fought on the side of the UNION and had several Coloured units. It is also clear that you know nothing of Michigan history. The French and 1st Nations were in control of Michigan for a good long time. The British also ruled here too. The Northwest Ordinance and the War of 1812 are major parts of our history. Michigan was also part of the underground railroad. Hardly the bastion of Confederacy that you claim.

Yes, there were some racial problems in Michigan, I started my life as evidence of a horrible crime, my white mom had sex with my black father, but that was fixed in 1967 with Loving vs. Virginia.

I would also be very careful about tossing about racist and white sheet comments. You leave the impression that you embrace stereotypes and are in fact a just as big a racist the man you are lashing with your typing fingers.

The parents (or more likely

The parents (or more likely parent) was probably working on one of her three jobs to make more short-term profits for the point 1 of 1% -- and had no energy or spirit left over to fight the standard process of 'school to jail' that passes for education for "those kids" in racist/classist USAmerica...

People don't have to be "racist" to do the dirty work of a Racist System!

But the USAmerican system is even worse than that. It's all about MONEY... It's all about exploitation and domination... It's NOT about enhancing the natural creativity and curiosity of children. It's ALL about CONTROL and programming for exploitation by a mindless, insane, commercial system of Planet Rape...

It's a SYSTEMIC problem and the only real cure will be when we change our direction -- remove ourselves from the dying paradigm.

This is what happens when

This is what happens when parents, and schools, abdicate responsibility for disciplining children.

Contrary to some people's loud opinions, most children do need guidance, and even -- gasp!! -- discipline, in order to mold them into someone who can live in society without causing major problems.

Now, so many people are so focused on encouraging kids to do whatever-they-feel-like-doing, and when those kids get out of control and cause problems -- or even when some adult doesn't like their socks -- the only alternative left is to bring the *police* into the equation.

This is insanity!

YOU are the insane one... YOU

YOU are the insane one...

YOU are the one suggesting corporal punishment in order to force children to "conform" to an insane society...

It's highly likely that most of the kids who get into trouble by not "fitting in" with your insane process could have been (could BE) the next Einsteins or Steve Jobs -- people who think OUTSIDE of the box, the creative, curious ones...

But then, in Racist USAmerica, the point of the exercise with "those kids" is to condition them to be mindless work unites and, if that fails, part of the For-Profit Prison population...

Creative pays the

Creative pays the bills...............NOT!

There is a constant need to

There is a constant need to keep the For Profit Prison System full in order to maintain their bottom lines. Outta sight, outta mind for the kids.

Isn't this what Jeezuz would

Isn't this what Jeezuz would do?!

Jail for the wrong colour

Jail for the wrong colour socks? Madness, no?

Various people have to be

Various people have to be going along with this absurdity in order for it to continue. School officials, the school board, the chief of police, etc. If the last were to simply say: "we have better things to do", that would be the end of it.

Mind, when you see people being jailed for "wearing the wrong color socks", you have to wonder if money is changing hands somewhere.

You probably find many

You probably find many Aparthied-For-Profit-Prison proponents on schools boards, or at least having influence over board decisions. Especially in a racist state like Mississippi. Kids are just a commodity to exploited by wall street.

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