The legislation would reduce mandatory minimums for certain drug offenses and largely ban solitary confinement for juveniles.
A new report by four civil rights groups finds that an alarming number of young people in Mississippi – most of them black – are being sent to jail or expelled from school for minor infractions.
Last fall, the Department of Justice sued the state, the city of Meridian, Lauderdale County and local judges for civil rights violations.
The defendants deny the charges, but also add that changes have been made.
The report, “Handcuffs on Success: The Extreme School Discipline Crisis in Mississippi Public Schools,” was produced by the Advancement Project, the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP and the Mississippi Coalition for the Prevention of Schoolhouse to Jailhouse.
The report’s executive summary says, in part:
“Across the state, public schools are hindering the success of children and youth by employing harsh and destructive disciplinary practices. These practices not only exclude students from the classroom thereby reducing learning opportunities, but even worse, Mississippi’s children are being trapped in a pipeline to prison, too often for the most trivial misbehaviors. Whether it is a dress code violation, profane language, or a schoolyard scuffle, young people are being herded into juvenile detention centers and into the revolving door of the criminal justice system.”