WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit challenging the conditions of confinement at the L.E. Rader Center, a juvenile facility in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.
The complaint alleges that conditions at the facility, which houses 215 boys up to 19 years old, routinely and systemically deprive youths of federally protected civil rights in violation of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. This statute allows the federal government to identify and root out systemic abuses such as those allegedly discovered in Oklahoma.
This lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma follows an investigation of two and a half years, the findings of which were detailed in a letter sent to Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry in June 2005. That findings letter documented evidence of numerous alleged civil rights violations, including youth-on-youth violence, staff-on-youth violence, youth-on-staff violence, sexual misconduct between youths and staff, sexual misconduct among youths, an inadequate system to prevent suicide and self-injurious behavior, and inadequate psychotropic medication administration. The Civil Rights Division has successfully resolved investigations of other juvenile justice facilities in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and Saipan. Investigations concerning juvenile justice facilities in California, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas are pending.
Since 2001, the Department of Justice has opened 67 similar investigations into the conditions at nursing homes, mental health facilities and residences for persons with developmental disabilities, as well as similar institutions. These figures represent a significant increase over the 47 such investigations initiated over the preceding six years.
The United Statesí findings letter to Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/split/documents/split_rader_findlet_6-15-05.pdf. Additional information about the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Departmentís Civil Rights Division can be found at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/split/index.html.