JACKSON, Miss. — A Hattiesburg television station aired a video yesterday that allegedly shows guards abusing juveniles at a youth detention center, after the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that it could.
On Jan. 11, Youth Court Judge Mike McPhail barred WDAM-TV from airing the video because he said it would jeopardize the juveniles' privacy. Yesterday, the state's highest court vacated the judge's order.
The Associated Press was one of about three dozen news organizations and media trade groups that joined WDAM in challenging McPhail's ruling.
WDAM broadcast the video last night with the juveniles' faces blurred, the station's news director said. WDAM argued it had a First Amendment right to broadcast the video shot at the Forrest County Juvenile Detention Center.
"What's at stake for the public is the right to be free of government censorship," said Leonard Van Slyke Jr., an attorney for the station.
A former employee of the detention center provided the tapes to WDAM. The sheriff's department accused the former employee of stealing them.
The Forest County sheriff's department argued that a state law required WDAM to seek the youth court's permission to air the tape. James Dukes Jr., a lawyer for the sheriff's department, said ...