A new report from the United States Justice Department’s civil rights division paints a bleak picture of Mississippi’s training schools for youths deemed delinquents, the New York Times says. Underfinanced, understaffed and ill-equipped, the schools and their poorly trained workers dole out abuse and mandatory Bible study, but withhold medical care and a decent education –all in violation of state and federal laws, says the report. The schools say the worst abuses have either been ended or never took place.
The Times’ account of findings by federal investigators who checked Mississippi’s schools four times last year:
Boys and girls were routinely hogtied, shackled to poles or locked in restraint chairs for hours for minor infractions.
Girls were forced to run while carrying tires, boys while holding logs, sometimes to the point of vomiting or injury.
Boys and girls were choked, slapped, beaten and attacked with pepper spray.
Girls who misbehaved or were on suicide watch were stripped naked and left in a windowless, stifling cinder-block cell, with nothing but the concrete floor to sleep on and a hole in the floor for a toilet, for up to a week at a time. One girl had been locked in a bare cell for 114 straight days.
Several other states have had scandals over the abuse of children in juvenile lockups. “It’s amazing – in the juvenile justice field, you pick up any rock and you find stuff like this,” said Jeffrey Butts of the Washington-based Urban Institute.