The U.S. Justice Department has reached a settlement with the state of Mississippi to overhaul the way young people are arrested and processed through the juvenile courts, NPR reports. The deal follows a scathing report from federal civil rights investigators who uncovered systemic violations of due process rights of juveniles, some of whom moved into the justice system for minor infractions such as truancy or wearing the wrong clothes to school.
Federal authorities sued the state and the city of Meridian in 2012, citing the area as among the worst examples of the “school to prison pipeline.” The terms of the settlement require city police in Meridian to document they have probable cause to take juveniles into custody and bar law enforcement from interviewing those juveniles unless a guardian or defense lawyer is present. The deal also imposes new requirements on probation officers, to make sure young people understand their constitutional rights against self-incrimination. Federal authorities continue to investigate the family court in St. Louis County, Mo., and the truancy court in Dallas County, Tx., for alleged due process violations.