The Justice Department announced today that it has opened a pattern or practice investigation of the Family Court of St. Louis. The investigation will focus on whether the court provides constitutionally required due process to all children appearing for delinquency proceedings and whether the court’s administration of juvenile justice provides equal protection to all children regardless of race.
This investigation will include a comprehensive review of policies, procedures, court documents and statistical data. As part of this investigation, the department will reach out to juvenile justice stakeholders, including community members and groups with knowledge of the Family Court’s processes.
“Protecting the constitutional rights of all children appearing in court is critical to achieving our goals of improving juvenile courts, increasing the public’s confidence in the juvenile justice system and maintaining public safety,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “During the course of this investigation, we will consider all relevant information, particularly any efforts the court has undertaken to ensure compliance with the Constitution and federal law.”
The department will conduct the investigation using its authority under Section 14141 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which prohibits a pattern or practice of deprivation of civil rights for juveniles in the administration of juvenile justice, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance. The department has conducted similar investigations in other jurisdictions, and most recently obtained important reforms in its investigation of the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee.
The Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division is conducting this investigation. Individuals with relevant information are encouraged to contact the department via email at Community.StLouis@usdoj.gov or by phone at 855-228-2151.
Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt .