Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

Mismatched Socks Are a Crime and I Am a Criminal


In Meridian, Mississippi, kids with juvenile records are getting arrested for wearing the wrong color socks:

In Meridian, when schools want to discipline children, they do much more than just send them to the principal’s office. They call the police, who show up to arrest children who are as young as 10 years old. Arrests, the Department of Justice says, 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. [Colorlines]

The Department of Justice is suing Meridian for violating the constitutional rights of young offenders. Good thing, too. The city is feeding the school-to-prison pipeline by treating troubled kids as second-class citizens whose every misstep becomes a police issue, even when they’re not breaking the law.

[Photo credit: Rikomatic, Creative Commons. Interestingly, this image was created for something the photographer calls “Mismatched Sock Solidarity Day.”]