April 20, 2009
Add your voice to this fight. Tell Harrison County officials to stop abusing children.
Today we filed suit to stop the horrible abuse of children at a Mississippi detention center, where they are confined in filthy, bug-infested cells for 23 hours a day with no adequate mental health or education services.
Our client, D.W., is a 17-year-old African-American youth who endured a brutal physical assault by guards who slammed his face into a concrete floor. After a week at the facility, he tried to hang himself with a bed sheet. But rather than provide him counseling, guards harassed and taunted him — telling him his mother no longer cared and would not visit him again.
The children held at the Harrison County Juvenile Detention Center in Biloxi are not hardened criminals. Most are accused of minor, nonviolent offenses and are simply awaiting court hearings.
This detention center is operated for profit by a company that has blocked civil rights investigators from inspecting the facility, even though they have a right under federal law to monitor the conditions there.
Dozens of other children describe their own nightmarish experiences. Because their cells were overcrowded, many slept on the floor next to dirty toilets. Infections were rampant. Guards were quick to use violence. One teen described conditions as "unbearable" and said children were treated like "dogs."
It's appalling that a private company is being allowed to profit from the misery and suffering of these children.
This lawsuit is just one of the strategies we're using to protect children from a broken system that would rather spend money on prisons than mental health services and education. Across the country, thousands of children — disproportionately black and many suffering from mental disabilities — are being needlessly incarcerated for petty offenses.
We're doing everything we can to stop this unconscionable abuse. You can help by adding your voice to this fight. Click here to tell Harrison County officials to stop abusing children. We'll make sure they get your message.
Thanks for your support.