Oct 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Justice Department to investigate Texas juvenile detention centers

Merrick Garland.

Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty Images

The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that it would open an investigation into the conditions in five juvenile correctional facilities in Texas, citing reports of physical and sexual abuse.

Driving the news: The department has investigated a number of states over their treatment of juveniles because "protecting the rights of children throughout the juvenile justice system is a top priority," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Details: The DOJ is launching the investigation under a law that allows them to look into the "systemic violations of the rights of young people in juvenile correctional facilities." According to Clarke:

  • At least 11 staff members have been arrested for sexually abusing children in the Texas facilities.
  • There have been reports of physical abuse by staff members, "including kicking, body-slamming and choking children to the point of unconsciousness."
  • "We will also investigate whether there is a pattern or practice of harm as a result of the excessive use of chemical restraints, excessive use of isolation or a lack of adequate mental health services," Clarke said.
  • "The Department of Justice stands ready to protect the rights of children who end up in juvenile facilities and our investigation will ensure that the treatment of these children comports with constitutional standards," Clarke added.
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