The U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit claiming officials in east Mississippi place public school students in jail for minor offenses, with a policy that affects mostly black and disabled children.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Jackson against the city of Meridian, Lauderdale County, Lauderdale County Youth Court judges and the state.
It claims Meridian police routinely arrest public school students without determining whether there is probable cause when a school wants to press charges.
Federal authorities say students have been denied due process in Youth Court and while on probation.
In a letter to Mississippi officials in August, the Justice Department threatened to sue if the problems continued.
The lawsuit claims officials in Mississippi denied the problems exist or failed to address them.