In April, Murfreesboro police arrested eleven children ages nine to twelve for allegedly witnessing an off-campus fight that had taken place several weeks earlier and not intervening. Four of the children were arrested at their elementary school just as school let out for the day. Two nine-year-old girls were placed in handcuffs during the arrests at the school. All of the children were taken to the juvenile detention center and booked.
Due to the unique circumstances, ACLU-TN worked with the families involved and the community to address this outrageous incident, including recruiting attorneys to provide pro bono services.
Murfreesboro police have since issued an initial investigative report, identifying eleven “areas of concern/opportunities for improvement.” The Office of Professional Responsibility is currently conducting an internal affairs investigation into the arresting officers’ conduct. On June 2, 2016, the Rutherford County district attorney announced he would dismiss the charges against the children.
This alarming episode, which sparked national outrage, underscores the importance of ACLU-TN’s efforts to reform Tennessee’s school-to-prison pipeline.