Disability Rights Mississippi v. Forrest County, Miss.
The Forrest County Juvenile Detention Center in Mississippi was the site of numerous abuse allegations. Video footage from the facility showed youths being slammed into walls and beaten by staffers. One youth in the video was hogtied by a guard. In addition to the abuse documented in the video, the juvenile detention center regularly confined children in filthy, crowded cells for 23 hours a day.
When Disability Rights Mississippi (DRMS) attempted to provide the youths with services to protect them from further abuse, Forrest County officials prevented DRMS from having access to the youths. The Southern Poverty Law Center and DRMS sued the county to force it to comply with federal law and allow DRMS access to the incarcerated children.
DRMS is a nonprofit agency with a federal mandate to protect the rights of people with disabilities. Under this mandate, they have a right to enter the facility, interview children, assess the conditions and work with the county to address violations. Numerous attempts were made to explain to county officials the legal basis for the DRMS request, but the county repeatedly rejected or ignored the requests.