October 26, 2012 -- Updated 1443 GMT (2243 HKT)
|In 2009, the Lauderdale County Juvenile Detention Facility in |
Meridian was the target of a federal class-action lawsuit.
- Federal civil rights lawyers sue Meridian, Lauderdale County, agencies
- They say children at Youth Court are denied rights
- Youth Court sees minorities disproportionately, lawsuit says
- Justice Department had warned officials about lawsuit
The lawsuit says children who talk back to teachers, violate dress codes and commit other minor infractions are handcuffed and sent to a youth court where they are denied their rights.
It's the first time a jurisdiction has been charged under a law designed to protect the due process rights of juveniles in such circumstances.
Also among the defendants were Lauderdale County, judges of the county's Youth Court and the State of Mississippi Division of Youth Services.
About 6,000 mostly African-American students attend grades kindergarten through 12 in a dozen schools in the Lauderdale County School District.
About 86% of the district's students are African-American, but all of those referred to the court for violations were minorities, the government suit said. READ MORE