Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline?

Federal decree in Mississippi may provide the key to stopping harsher suspensions for black students.

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Attorney Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP, said in a statement that the concerns triggering the Meridian consent decree -- and an ongoing federal lawsuit against local courts and law-enforcement officials who allegedly disproportionately detained black students and remanded them to juvenile-detention centers -- were "reminiscent of these historic battles over access to public education." The NAACP applauds the Justice Department's order.

What's more, say school-reform advocates such as the Advancement Project's Dianis and Public Interest Project's Cipriani, suspended and expelled students are more likely to fail, drop out, wind up behind bars and be relegated to lifelong poverty.

Freelancer Katti Gray specializes in covering criminal justice, health care, higher education and human resources. She is a contributing editor at the Center on Media, Crime and Justice in New York City.

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