The state of Mississippi ranks 50th in the average salary it pays its public school teachers. There's also, you know, the deep history of poverty and racism and deprivation. So perhaps it is no surprise that Mississippi's public schools are exceedingly quick to arrest students for the most trifling violations.
A new report from the Advancement Project, a civil rights group, says that Mississippi's schools place kids in a "pipeline to prison," using the juvenile criminal justice system as a replacement for normal school discipline. (The state is tops in paddling!) The report includes a litany of minor incidents that ended in outrageous punishments, like the five year-old who was sent home in a police car for "violating dress code" for not having black shoes, even though his mom had tried to color his shoes with a black marker.
The report is more of a summary of widely-known problems than a groundbreaking new issue being raised for the first time. From the NYT:
In August, the Justice Department released a letter of findings charging that the police in Meridian routinely arrested children at schools without probable cause, merely on the referral of school personnel. The letter found that students had been incarcerated for "dress code violations, flatulence, profanity and disrespect."
Woke up, went to school, went to jail for farting. Mississippi, goddamn.
[The full report. Photo of James Meredith, who might be disappointed in the progress of the past 50 years: AP]