Harsh disciplinary practices in Mississippi schools, including handcuffing students for “sagging” their pants, have caused an uproar. The US Justice Department has filed a lawsuit claiming that school officials in Mississippi have gone too far.
According to reports, children in Mississippi schools have been facing harsh discipline, including expulsion and jail time, for relatively minor issues. The ACLU and NAACP are working together in an effort to deter the issue. They claim these problems have “plagued Mississippi schools statewide for years.” The agencies are also concerned as the policies appear to single out minorities.
As reported by ABC News, the policies are creating what civil rights organizations are calling a “school-to-prison-pipeline.” Late last year the Justice Department filed a suit in Meridian, Mississippi. The suit claims that many students were sent to jail for minor offenses such as dress code violations. According to the suit, most of the children sent to jail by the school were minorities.
According to a report by Think Progress, Mississippi is one of 19 states that still permits paddling. More harsh punishment, such as handcuffing students for “sagging” their pants, has been reported as well:
“In 2010, in Jackson Public School District, until a lawsuit was filed, staff at one school regularly handcuffed students to metal railings in the school gymnasium and left them there for hours if they were caught not wearing a belt, among other minor infractions. For example, one 14-year-old boy was reportedly handcuffed to the railing when he wore a stocking cap to class, threw his papers on the ground, and refused to do his school work.”
The lawsuit filed in Mississippi by the US Justice Department alleges that such harsh discipline does not deter bad behavior. Civil rights organizations argue that exposing children to the criminal justice system does more harm than good. Some children have been repeatedly jailed, which causes them to miss school and puts them in contact with “real” criminals.
Critics of the policies have also pointed out that policies such as handcuffing students for “sagging” their pants could “push students of color out of school, away from their educational futures and into the criminal justice system.”