Minority kids disproportionately impacted by zero-tolerance laws

A year ago, Kyle Thompson was a soft-spoken, 115 pound, football-playing freshman whose tug-of-war with a teacher over 'the hit list," a note about kids he wanted to tackle on the field, landed him in handcuffs and ultimately led to his expulsion.

He's still soft spoken, but after eight months on house arrest and self-imposed isolation from friends, he's grown.

He's taller, heavier. And there's a subtle resolve in his voice now.

In 2009, the Lauderdale County Juvenile Detention Facility in Meridian was the target of a federal class-action lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center that alleged children and teens were subjected to "shockingly inhumane" treatment, the center said.

The police department command staff and officers characterized their agency as a "taxi service" for the schools and juvenile detention facility, without assessing the circumstances of the alleged charges against students, the Justice Department said.

"The Youth Court places children on probation, and the terms of the probation set by the Youth Court and DYS require children on probation to serve any suspensions from school incarcerated in the juvenile detention center," the Justice Department letter said.

The Farmington, Michigan, teen said his brush with a zero-tolerance discipline law aged him, made him a man.

"I want to be accepted as a different person, not as a criminal for getting kicked out of school," Thompson said. "I want to have a chance at going to another school to prove myself."

Kyle is exactly the kind of student the Justice and Education departments have concluded is disproportionately impacted by strict, 1990s-era tough-on-crime school discipline policies that call for suspensions, expulsions and even arrests for sometimes minor infractions.

He's young. He's male. He's black.

Read the full story at CNN.com