Could Your Kid Be Thrown In Jail For Wearing the Wrong Socks? [Reader Forum]

Colorlines readers respond to the shocking details of a Mississippi school-to-prison pipeline.

By Nia King Dec 03, 2012

Last week, Julianne Hing reported a shocking story about students as young as 10 years old being thrown in jail for minor infractions at school–including dress code violations–in Meridian, Miss. She reports:

In Meridian, when schools want to discipline children, they call the police. Arrests happen automatically, regardless of whether the police officer knows exactly what kind of offense the child has committed or whether that offense is even worthy of an arrest. The police department’s policy is to arrest all children referred to the agency. Once those children are in the juvenile justice system, they are denied basic constitutional rights. They are handcuffed and incarcerated for days without any hearing and subsequently warehoused without understanding their alleged probation violations.

News of Meridian’s egregiously punitive policies and denial of basic rights caused quite a stir in the Colorlines community. Here’s what you had to say.

Angela Kane:

This needs to be stopped by any means possible. We need to stop being victims.


The whole purpose of this type of incarceration is to terrorize mostly children who are from minority groups, and gives them a message. You do not belong in school, you are going to end up in prison anyway, why not start early. These kids need to be in school. Putting a kid in jail for wearing the wrong color socks? What has this world come to?


The civilized nations should start sanctions against the US for human rights violations. Seriously. How can this be happening? And you call yourself "the leader of the free world"? Hahahaha!

Lyla Bugara:

This is a nightmare, a painfully ugly part of the U.S. racist, Prison Industrial Complex.


Time and time again, the American justice system continues to confirm the disparity of Race and racism. People of African descent living in the US, is like living under apartheid in South Africa. People are free to enjoy the "liberty and democratic" rights that enjoy by Whites in the US. As nation, you cannot fight for the global liberation of others, when internally, the oppression of "otherness" continues.

Kathleen O’Neill:

This is so chilling. I’m glad it’s finally being unearthed, there are few things I hate more than bias and corruption among those who are supposed to protect and defend.

Mary McCurnin:

This is a slow walk to emotional and cultural extermination. The Meridian authorities are monsters.


While I realized that institutional racism is not an anomaly, that these heinous practices are perpetrated against children–the ones who deserve our protection and guidance–is horrifying. I am grateful that the DOJ has chosen to pursue what is clearly a pervasive issue in Mississippi and other states like it. However, it’s the citizens of these towns and people like us who have to lead the charge. The people who are responsible for this are counting on our apathy. We have to remember the measure of a nation is how it treats its youngest and weakest and we are sorely failing that test. Poverty has become a taboo word in this country and it is often at the root of these types of problems.

Robin Taborelli:

I thought I was reading about some weird world somewhere in a corner of the universe we’ve never heard of before. Then I realized, this is Mississippi! This is the U.S.of A! This has to be the most insane thing I have ever heard regarding this country and the treatment of children. Thanks for the info. I am thankful the Justice Dept. is finally taking action. Why did it take this long? This is truly an outrage.

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