The U.S. Justice Department sued Mississippi state and local officials on Wednesday over what it called a “school-to-prison pipeline” that violates the rights of children, especially black and disabled youths, Reuters reports. The suit alleges that police officers in Meridian, Mississippi, routinely arrested students who were suspended from school, even when they had no probable cause to believe the students had committed a crime.

“We found that children have been incarcerated for being suspended from school for things like dress code violations or talking back to teachers,” said Roy Austin, a senior civil rights official in the Justice Department.

The police department acted as little more than a “taxi service” between schools and a juvenile detention center 80 miles away, where students did not have access to lawyers or counselors, the suit says…

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staff and wire services reports