The Department of Justice has launched an investigation into conditions at five secure juvenile correctional facilities run by the state of Texas, officials announced Wednesday. The probe will attempt to dig into whether Texas juvenile justice authorities provide underage offenders “reasonable protection from physical and sexual abuse by staff and other residents, excessive use of chemical restraints and excessive use of isolation,” according to the feds, who will also determine whether or not Texas provides adequate mental health services to juvenile inmates.
“Too often children held in juvenile detention facilities are subject to abuse and mistreatment, and deprived of their constitutional rights,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “State officials have a constitutional obligation to ensure reasonable safety for children in these institutions. 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.”
In October 2020, a Texas nonprofit filed a complaint with the DOJ alleging many of the same issues taking place in the Lone Star State’s juvenile detention centers.