Officials in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, have operated "a school-to-prison pipeline" that violates the constitutional rights of juveniles by incarcerating them for alleged school disciplinary infractions, some as minor as defiance, the U.S. Department of Justice said. "OK, first of all, juveniles and constitutional rights? Where'd that come from?" asked Lauderdale School District Assistant Superintendent for In School Incarceration Programs R.T. Claude 'Buster' Wiggins, Jr. "And secondly this is Mississippi. Schools are pretty much prisons anyway."
"Students most affected by this system are African-American children and children with disabilities," the Justice Department said. "Yeah Yeah, OK. Maybe disabled kids is a bit over the top," Wiggins conceded. "You probably aren't gonna steal a car if you're in a wheelchair, but these little negro chillin' just ain't got no respect for their white betters. They need prison to learn how to get along in polite society."
The letter also names two Lauderdale County Youth Court judges, Frank Coleman and Veldore Young. "Now you ought to leave Frank and Veldore out of this," Wiggins said. "They was just doing their jobs a getting these trouble makers off the street fer they did something dangerous like learned to read or something equally disruptive to the public peace."
In 2009, the Lauderdale County Juvenile Detention Facility in Meridian was the target of a federal class-action lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center that alleged children and teens were subjected to "shockingly inhumane" treatment, the center said. The alleged mistreatment included youngsters being "crammed into small, filthy cells and tormented with the arbitrary use of Mace as a punishment for even the most minor infractions -- such as 'talking too much' or failing to sit in the 'back of their cells,'" the center said in a statement.
Well, we ain't got no buses here," Wiggins said.