Mississippi’s School-to-Prison Pipeline

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As Exhibit A, Colorlines.com profiled the woeful tale of Cedrico Green. Now a high school senior, Green became indoctrinated following an eighth-grade scuffle with a classmate. From that point, infractions as mundane as talking back to a teacher and
arriving late for class landed him in juvenile detention as many as “maybe 30 times.”

There were times when he was held for as long as two weeks at a time and often suspensions designated for as long as 10-days stretched to 14 because weekend days didn’t count as time served. Ultimately, all the time away from his studies ended with Green being held back and required to repeat the eighth grade.

“It was mind-boggling,” Gloria Green told Colorlines of her son’s ordeal. “My son loved school and to be kicked out as much as he was, one year he just couldn’t catch up. I went over to the school and got make-up work, and he still failed two subjects and at that point I didn’t know which way what my child was going to go.”

In response to the lawsuit, city attorney Ronnie Walton contends the city has already revised many of the policies outlined by DOJ and that officers now only respond to city schools for incidents involving the commission of a felony, physical violence, weapons or drugs violations or by direct order of a Youth Court officer.

Walton also alleges that officers are no longer empowered to take kids into custody without personally witnessing the commission of their offense or without the direct order of a judge.

Not too surprisingly, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin took exception with the city’s claims. According to Austin, government officials only took action after their demands for cooperation fell on deaf ears.

“We had no choice but to file suit,” Austin said, noting that city officials were given 60 days to comply. Austin alluded to the Shelby County, Tennessee school system as an example of a district which took similar complaints to heart and where local officials were fully cooperative.

Glenn Minnis is a NYC-based sports and culture writer. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.

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