A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

DOJ: New York jail routinely violates rights of adolescent inmates

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] released a report [press release] Monday finding that the New York City Department of Correction [official website] has routinely violated the constitutional rights of male teenagers at the Rikers Island jail complex. The report was released after a multi-year investigation pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) [text] was completed, which found that correctional officers relied on physical forms of punishment. No legal action has commenced [Reuters report] as a result of the report, however, US attorney for New York's Southern District Preet Bharara and Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] released a joint statement about the detention center, stating:

"It is a place where brute force is the first impulse rather than the last resort; where verbal insults are repaid with physical injuries; where beatings are routine while accountability is rare; and where a culture of violence endures even while a code of silence prevails."
The report advises the city to implement changes for improvement, such as increasing the use of surveillance cameras, revising the use-of-force policy and creating a policy for staff to report suspicious officer behavior.

Rehabilitation principles for juvenile offenders are frequently raised as a concern [JURIST op-ed]. Last year, three companies behind private juvenile detention and treatment facilities involved in a northeastern Pennsylvania juvenile justice scandal settled a civil lawsuit [JURIST report] for $2.5 million. The scandal involved two former judges for the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas [official website], Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan, who allegedly received $2.8 million in kickbacks from a commercial builder, an attorney and a businessman in exchange for helping to construct and operate two juvenile detention centers and placing hundreds of juvenile offenders there.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.