Filed Date: April 14, 2022
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In October 2017, the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina (collectively, “the DOJ”) initiated an investigation of the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (SCDJJ) pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), and the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act. The investigation was focused on the Broad River Road Complex (BRRC), which was South Carolina’s long-term juvenile commitment facility.
After the DOJ's initial investigation, it issued a findings report on February 5, 2020, in which it concluded that it had reasonable cause to believe that the SCDJJ failed to keep the young people in its custody reasonably safe from assaults by other young people and that it used prolonged and punitive isolation in violation of CRIPA. The investigation did not reveal a reasonable basis to believe that the SCDJJ violated the ADA through its use of pre-sentencing secure evaluation centers. To complete its investigation, the DOJ conducted several onsite tours and interviews, and reviewed available video footage of instances related to the alleged violations.
The DOJ continued its investigation and issued a second findings report on April 14, 2022, concluding that: 1) the conditions at the BRRC violated the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and 2) the violations were pursuant to a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. More specifically, the DOJ found that the SCDJJ failed to keep young people reasonably safe from excessive force by staff at the BRRC. Furthermore, the DOJ concluded that through its policies and procedures, failure to train its staff, and inadequate investigations, the Department seriously harmed young people and placed them at substantial risk of serious harm by staff.
In addition to issuing its findings, the DOJ made several suggestions for remedial measures:
Also on April 14, 2022, the DOJ filed a complaint pursuant to the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act. On the same day, the DOJ filed a settlement agreement resolving its investigation in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. The matter was assigned to Judge Mary Geiger Lewis. In the agreement, the SCDJJ agreed to implement all of the DOJ's suggested remedial measures. The agreement also appointed an independent subject matter expert to monitor the agreement and make recommendations to ensure the SCDJJ’s compliance. Lastly, the agreement would expire in 5 years so long as SCDJJ attained substantial compliance with all provisions and maintained that compliance for one year. The parties jointly moved to conditionally dismiss the case and requested that the court retain jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement permitting reinstatement of the action in case of breach.
Nina Gerdes (5/1/2023)
For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/63237645/parties/united-states-v-south-carolina-department-of-juvenile-justice/
Lewis, Mary Geiger (South Carolina)
Sneed, Robert M (South Carolina)
Davis, Clarence (South Carolina)
Dreiband, Eric S. (District of Columbia)
Wilson, Alan (South Carolina)
Last updated Feb. 21, 2024, 3:13 a.m.
State / Territory: South Carolina
Filing Date: April 14, 2022
Case Ongoing: Yes
Plaintiff is the Special Litigation Section of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: No
Class Action Outcome: Not sought
Causes of Action:
Prevailing Party: Plaintiff
Nature of Relief:
Source of Relief:
Form of Settlement:
Order Duration: 2022 - None
Content of Injunction:
Jails, Prisons, Detention Centers, and Other Institutions:
Disability and Disability Rights:
Type of Facility: