Home News Center Response to 10-year-old Black child arrested and sentenced to probation for public urination

Response to 10-year-old Black child arrested and sentenced to probation for public urination

December 20, 2023

Statement: The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects, SPLC and NJJN issue joint statement in response to judge sentencing 10-year-old Black child to probation for public urination.

December 20, 2023


Mississippi: Evan Nowell, SPLC,
National: Courtney M. McSwain, Director of Communications,

Jackson, Miss. - Last week in Tate County, Mississippi, Youth Court Judge Rusty Harlow sentenced a 10-year-old Black child to three months of probation and a book report for public urination. Unfortunately, this treatment of a Black child by the state’s youth legal system is not an anomaly. According to research from the Southern Poverty Law Center, Black youth in Mississippi are more likely to be referred to youth court, incarcerated and charged as adults – and less likely to have their cases diverted.

Today, Mississippi youth justice advocates The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects and SPLC, joined by the National Juvenile Justice Network, released the following joint statement condemning this unjust criminalization of a Black child - and calling for policy reforms that are safer and more just for all children.

Arresting a child at 10 years old does absolutely nothing to advance a community’s sense of safety. Instead, it creates greater risks of young Black children becoming chronically involved in the youth legal system and can leave long-lasting, damaging effects on their mental health, education and employment outcomes.

We urge anyone committed to combating racial injustice in Mississippi’s youth legal system to join us in demanding the state raise its minimum age of youth incarceration and prosecution from 10 years old to at least 14 years old and make nonviolent offenses, especially technical violations, status offenses and nonviolent drug offenses, nonjailable for youth.


About The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects
The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects is an organization that prioritizes the development and wellbeing of southern Black girls and women, from education and health to media perception and the impact of policies upon them.

About Southern Poverty Law Center
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people.  For more information, visit www.splcenter.org.

About National Juvenile Justice Network
The National Juvenile Justice Network (NYJN) builds the movement for anti-racist, healing-centered youth justice. We unite a diverse network of advocates and organizers to shift youth justice away from policing and prisons toward community-based, trauma-informed and healing-centered responses to youth needs. Our work centers the needs of the most marginalized, and we seek a reimagined future where Black, Brown, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+ youth, and youth with disabilities have the freedom, resources and opportunities necessary to thrive.

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