MERIDIAN — DOJ files school-to-prison pipeline suit
A U.S. Department of Justice investigation into an alleged school-to-prison pipeline in Meridian resulted in a lawsuit being filed in October against the city of Meridian, Lauderdale County, two Lauderdale County Youth Court judges and the Mississippi Department of Youth Services.
The lawsuit alleges that students in trouble with the judicial system had been deprived of their constitutional rights and were jailed for violating probation conditions over relatively minor infractions, such as talking back to teachers, flatulence and dress code violations.
The lawsuit mentions that these are students in the Meridian Public School District but the district itself was not named as a defendant.
Responses to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Jackson, were filed separately by attorneys representing the city of Meridian, Lauderdale County, and Youth Court Judges Frank Coleman and Veldore Young.
Distribution center announces closure
On Nov. 7, Handy Hardware CEO Ken White announced that the two-year old distribution center located on Handy Drive next to Interstate 20 east of Meridian would shut its loading docks Dec. 31. White said the decision to close the Meridian facility was made to restore company profitability.
The 107 employees at Handy Hardware were given notice of the decision on the same day.
The Mississippi Development Authority awarded Handy Hardware a $3.6 million grant to open the distribution center and Lauderdale County spent $600,000 on infrastructure and site preparation. A Mississippi Development Authority official said the state will ask for the $3.6 million back from Handy Hardware.
Wade Jones, president of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation, said work is underway to attract a new tenant for the building. Just two days after Handy Hardware announced the closing, Jones was in Atlanta and called on three consultants who represent companies that are looking for new locations.