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Mississippi School Shackles Students as Punishment

jackson mississippi, civil rights violations, cap city alternative school

Does an untucked shirt really call for handcuffs?

Yes, you read that right.  A school in Mississippi – a state with a murderous civil rights history – is responding to “minor [student] violations by shackling children to railings and poles for hours at a time.”  The AP reports that “civil rights advocates have filed suit against Jackson’s public school district” due to Capital City Alternative School’s use of excessive punishment.

Critics of the school’s methods say students who attend Capital City Alternative are “more likely to drop out of school and commit crimes later in life.”  An unfortunate fact, considering that the school’s website claims its aim is to “equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in their home schools, communities and throughout their lives.”  It’s true that students at Cap City have been “suspended/expelled from Jackson Public Schools for 10 days or longer,” but it appears that the students who were handcuffed were being punished simply for their reputations.  One student was shackled just because his shirt was untucked.

According to WLBT in Jackson, “Students were simply (saying) I forgot my belt today, have the wrong shoes on.  They were handcuffed.”  WLBT reports:

Four males and one female, between the ages of 14 and 16, claim they were handcuffed by the wrists, and at times the ankles as well, for up to six hours.  Some students say they were forced to eat lunch while handcuffed, and had to yell out to be released to use the bathroom, sometimes unsuccessfully.  They claim school principals often ordered the shackling.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed its suit yesterday in U.S. District Court, saying the school is violating not only school board policy but the students’ Constitutional rights.  “The suit names Jackson Public Schools and Capital City Alternative School officials and seeks class-action status on behalf of all of the school’s students,” according to the AP.

What troubled teens need is rehabilitation and positive reinforcement, not handcuffs.  Unless a student poses a physical threat, there’s no need to restrain them.  I can understand reprimanding a student for not complying with the dress code, but shackles for 6 hours?  No way.  Unacceptable.  What do you think?

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