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Children's Rights

Date Filed

July 10, 2012

Almost two years after finding that Mississippi’s Jackson Public School District violated federal special education law, the Mississippi Department of Education had failed to hold the district accountable and ensure that its students with disabilities were receiving services required by federal law. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal class action lawsuit in 2012 against the department on behalf of these students.

Children's Rights
Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

March 07, 2011

The Forrest County Juvenile Detention Center in Mississippi was the site of numerous abuse allegations. Security camera footage from the facility showed youths being slammed into walls and beaten by staffers. When Disability Rights Mississippi (DRMS) attempted to provide the youths with services to protect them from further abuse, Forrest County officials blocked access to them. The Southern Poverty Law Center and DRMS sued the county to force it to comply with federal law and allow DRMS access to the children. After county officials settled the suit by granting access, a second lawsuit was filed challenging the inhumane conditions found at the facility in Hattiesburg. County officials agreed to improve the conditions at the facility as part of a settlement agreement for the second lawsuit.

LGBTQ Rights

Date Filed

December 17, 2013

Destin Holmes was subjected to pervasive anti-LGBT bullying and harassment by fellow students, faculty and even administrators within the schools of Mississippi’s Moss Point School District. The harassment became so severe Destin was eventually driven out of school. The SPLC filed a federal lawsuit on her behalf to end the bullying and harassment in the district.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

August 12, 2010

Mississippi authorities took a newborn baby from her Mexican immigrant mother and placed the daughter with two white Gulf Coast lawyers who frequently practiced law before the youth court judge who approved the child’s removal. The mother was then prohibited from speaking publicly about her family's ordeal despite her request to waive confidentiality rules of the youth court. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the family and appealed the earlier gag order.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

October 19, 2009

Children and teens held at the Lauderdale County Juvenile Detention Center in Mississippi were subjected to shockingly inhumane treatment. The youths endured physical and mental abuse as they were crammed into small, filthy cells and tormented with pepper spray for minor infractions. The Southern Poverty Law Center sued Lauderdale County and reached a settlement agreement to end the abuses.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

April 20, 2009

Children held at the Harrison County Juvenile Detention Center in Mississippi endured squalid conditions and horrific physical and mental abuse that violated their civil rights. They were forced to endure shackling, physical assaults by staff, confinement to vermin-infested cells and overcrowded, unsanitary conditions that resulted in widespread contraction of scabies and staph infections. The detention center also failed to provide children with adequate medical and mental health care during their confinement. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal class action lawsuit that resulted in a settlement agreement to protect children and teens detained at the center from abuse and neglect.

LGBTQ Rights

Date Filed

October 01, 2013

Aldermen in the small town of Shannon, Miss., unjustly denied a business license to a lesbian who wanted to reopen a bar catering to the LGBT community. The SPLC filed a federal lawsuit against the town and its leaders for violating the bar owner’s equal protection and free-speech rights under the First and 14th Amendments.

Criminal Justice Reform
Active Case

Date Filed

May 30, 2013

Prisoners at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian endured filthy and dangerous conditions at the for-profit prison, which operated “in a perpetual state of crisis” where prisoners were at “grave risk of death and loss of limbs,” even resorting to setting fires to receive medical attention. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the prisoners that described how prison officials had known of these conditions for years but failed to protect prisoners.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

June 08, 2011

Students at Jackson Public School District’s Capital City Alternative School have regularly been disciplined for minor infractions, such as not wearing a belt or for wearing mismatched shoelaces, by being shackled for hours at a time to a fixed object. The lawsuit was filed after Jackson Public Schools refused to respond to a demand letter requesting that the school district end these practices.

Children's Rights
Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

June 02, 2011

Children held at the Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center in Jackson, Miss., were denied mental health services and subjected to verbal abuse and threats of physical harm by staff members. The Southern Poverty Law Center and Disability Rights Mississippi filed a class action lawsuit in June 2011 after numerous attempts to resolve the issues with county officials failed. A settlement agreement to protect youth at the facility was approved in March 2012.

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