The Shocking Details of a Mississippi School-to-Prison Pipeline - Highest Infant Mortality rate in the Nation AND … .
Cedrico Green can’t exactly remember how many times he went back and forth to juvenile. When asked to venture a guess he says, “Maybe 30.” He was put on probation by a youth court judge for getting into a fight when he was in eighth grade. Thereafter, any of Green’s school-based infractions, from being a few minutes late for class to breaking the school dress code by wearing the wrong color socks, counted as violations of his probation and led to his immediate suspension and incarceration in the local juvenile detention center.
But Green wasn’t alone. A bracing Department of Justice lawsuit filed last month against Meridian, Miss., where Green lives and is set to graduate from high school this coming year, argues that the city’s juvenile justice system has operated a school to prison pipeline that shoves students out of school and into the criminal justice system, and violates young people’s due process rights along the way.
In Meridian, when schools want to discipline children, they do much more than just send them to the principal’s office. They call the police, who show up to arrest children who are as young as 10 years old. Arrests, the Department of Justice says, happen automatically, regardless of whether the police officer knows exactly what kind of offense the child has committed or whether that offense is even worthy of an arrest. The police department’s policy is to arrest all children referred to the agency.
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.
“[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.
Mississippi has the highest infant mortality rate in the United States. According to the state’s health office, for every 1000 babies born, 9.4 die before their first birthday, a mortality rate tantamount to those of underdeveloped countries. While there is no one, clear explanation for the problem, experts indicate that several contributing factors involve the mothers’ socioeconomic backgrounds.
Premature births are one of the leading causes of infant death in America, and according to the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth, poverty and low education contribute to high preterm birth rates. In 2011, Mississippi had the highest percentage of people living below poverty level in the U.S. The state also has the highest rate of preterm births, according the March of Dimes.
AND, NOW, FOR THIS SHOCKING CORRELATION:
I realize it is a gross logical fallacy to equate Correlation with Causation, but WTF, this time, I’m going with it.