MS Supreme Court OKs airing of abuse video - - Jackson, MS

MS Supreme Court OKs airing of abuse video

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By Julie Straw - bio | email | twitter

 FORREST COUNTY, MS (WLBT) - The Mississippi Supreme Court has thrown out a Forrest County Youth Court injunction that barred WDAM from airing video of alleged jailer abuse at the Juvenile Detention Center there.

The images were violent and so were the teens' accounts of what happened inside the walls of the Forrest County Juvenile Detention Center.

"He was slamming me against the wall and throwing me on the floor and drug me on the floor," said an unidentified former juvenile inmate.

The video shows a teen inmate hog tied with handcuffs, along with guards pushing, dragging and even beating the juveniles.

"His lip was busted.  He got to showing me all his scars on his arm, all the scars on his back," said the mother of an unidentified former inmate.

"She failed a drug test. That don't deserve her to be picked up and thrown and treated like she was an animal," said the grandmother of an unidentified victim.

A former detention center employee provided WDAM with more than two hours of video showing alleged abuse involving at least four inmates.  Youth Court Judge Mike McPhail barred the station from airing the tapes claiming it would jeopardize the teen's privacy.

"The public needs to know what's going on in that detention facility," said attorney for Raycom Media Leonard Van Slyke.  He took the case to the Mississippi Supreme Court arguing the television station has a First Amendment right to broadcast the video.

About three dozen national news organizations, including the Associated Press and New York Times, joined in the fight to challenge Judge McPhail's ruling.

Thursday the state's highest court ruled in favor of the news media.

"The core principles of this country are based on there not being government censorship and what this case represented was a form of government censorship had we not won," said Van Slyke.

The Forrest County's Sheriff's office said one guard was fired for abusing an inmate and that criminal charges may be filed against him.

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