Report spurred by New Black Panther charges find polarized Justice Dept.
A report issued Tuesday found voting rights staffers in the U.S. Justice Department displayed a lack of professionalism.
March 12th, 2013
08:20 PM ET

Report spurred by New Black Panther charges find polarized Justice Dept.

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer

Washington (CNN) - Staffers in the voting rights section of the U.S. Justice Department - during both the Bush and Obama administrations - took political potshots at each other and often displayed a lack of professionalism, according to a report issued Tuesday.

The department's inspector general found camps within that office battled over priorities and cases for most of the past decade.

But the report found that there was "insufficient support for a conclusion that Civil Rights Division leadership in either the prior or current administration improperly refused to enforce the voting rights laws on behalf of any particular group of voters or that either administration used the enforcement of laws to seek improper partisan advantage."

The report covers a series of controversies during the years 2001 to 2011, when first George W. Bush, and then Barack Obama controlled the Justice Department.

The voting rights pot boiled over on November 4, 2008, when two members of the New Black Panther Party stood outside a polling station in Philadelphia dressed in boots and berets and carrying a nightstick. Civil charges for attempted intimidation were filed, but then dropped against three of four defendants.

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Filed under: History • Politics • Race
Mississippi town sued over 'school-to-prison pipeline'
In 2009, the Lauderdale County Juvenile Detention Facility in Meridian was the target of a federal class-action lawsuit.
October 26th, 2012
11:00 PM ET

Mississippi town sued over 'school-to-prison pipeline'

By Terry Frieden, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Federal civil rights lawyers filed suit Wednesday against Meridian, Mississippi, and other defendants for operating what the government calls a school-to-prison pipeline in which students are denied basic constitutional rights, sent to court and incarcerated for minor school infractions.

The lawsuit says children who talk back to teachers, violate dress codes and commit other minor infractions are handcuffed and sent to a youth court where they are denied their rights.

It's the first time a jurisdiction has been charged under a law designed to protect the due process rights of juveniles in such circumstances.

Also among the defendants were Lauderdale County, judges of the county's Youth Court and the State of Mississippi Division of Youth Services.

About 6,000 mostly African-American students attend grades kindergarten through 12 in a dozen schools in the Lauderdale County School District.

About 86% of the district's students are African-American, but all of those referred to the court for violations were minorities, the government suit said.

The federal action came more than two months after the Justice Department warned local and state officials that they had 60 days to cooperate or face a federal lawsuit.

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Filed under: Black in America • Education • How we live