Interviews and evidence gathering will start soon in Meridian, Miss., a year after federal officials accused several agencies of operating a school-to-jail pipeline, reports the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. The Department of Justice sued in October 2012, alleging the city, courts and local and state agencies operate a system that criminalizes young minorities by placing them in the justice system without due process for petty rule-breaking.
A judge and attorneys will meet Oct. 7 to set ground rules for the case. Meridian city schools are not part of the school-to-prison pipeline case, but they are under DOJ supervision in a similar matter tied to a separate, decades-old desegregation case. In May, Meridian schools signed a consent order to settle DOJ charges that black students face harsher punishment that white students for similar misdeeds. The order directs Meridian schools to handle minor rule-breaking on campus with school staff instead of police calls, trips to court, and long student suspensions or expulsions.