Special Litigation Section
Special Litigation Section
The Special Litigation Section is one of several Sections in the Civil Rights Division. We work to protect civil rights in the following areas: 1) the rights of people in state or local institutions, including: jails, prisons, juvenile detention facilities, and health care facilities for persons with disabilities; 2) the rights of individuals with disabilities to receive services in their communities, rather than in institutions; 3) the rights of people who interact with state or local police or sheriffs' departments; 4) the rights of youth involved in the juvenile justice system; 5) the rights of people to have safe access to reproductive health care clinics; and 6) the rights of people to practice their religion while confined to state and local institutions. We can also act on behalf of people at risk of harm in these areas.
Special Litigation Section News
DOJ Issues Conclusions About Alabama Prisons Investigation
On April 2, 2019, the Civil Rights Division issued a notice letter informing the State of Alabama of the conclusions of its investigation into the Alabama men’s prisons. We concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that these prisons fail to protect prisoners from prisoner-on-prisoner violence and prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse, and fail to provide prisoners with safe conditions. The investigation was conducted by attorneys with the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Alabama. If you have comments, concerns, or relevant information, please feel free to contact us via email at USAALN.CivilRights@usa.doj.gov or by phone at (877) 419-2366.
The Justice Department has opened an investigation of the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice. The investigation will review conditions at the Broad River Road Complex, South Carolina’s long-term juvenile commitment facility, including whether South Carolina fails to protect youth from physical abuse by other youth and by staff, and subjects youth to prolonged solitary confinement. The investigation will also review whether the Department of Juvenile Justice violates the Americans with Disabilities Act in its use of pre-sentencing residential evaluation centers. In particular, the Department is assessing whether youth with disabilities, including mental health and cognitive disabilities, receive reasonable modifications so they can benefit from the community-based evaluation process and have an equal opportunity to benefit from community-based evaluations. If you have relevant information, please contact us via email at SCJuvenile.Justice@usdoj.gov (link sends e-mail), by phone (toll-free) at 1-844-380-6166, or by mail at U.S. Department of Justice, Special Litigation Section, Civil Rights Division, 950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20530 (attn.: Jaclyn Weiner)
On August 10, 2016, the Civil Rights Division released the results of its comprehensive investigation into the Baltimore Police Department. We found that BPD engages in a pattern or practice of unlawful stops, searches, and arrests; these unlawful stops, searches and arrests disproportionately harm African Americans in Baltimore, resulting in disparities, along with other evidence of intentional discrimination, that erodes public trust; BPD engages in a pattern or practice of excessive force and discrimination against people with mental health disabilities or in crisis; and BPD routinely suppresses protected speech. The Department welcomes feedback from the community. If you have comments or concerns, please feel free to contact us via email at Community.Baltimore@usdoj.gov by phone at 1-844-401-3733.
Settlement Agreement Regarding the St. Louis County, MO Family Court (Juvenile Court)
On December 14, 2016, the Justice Department entered into a comprehensive agreement with the Family Court (Juvenile Court) of St. Louis County, Missouri, to resolve the department’s findings of serious and systemic violations of juvenile due process and equal protection rights. The Agreement requires the Family Court to implement a number of remedial measures designed to protect the constitutional rights of children throughout their court proceedings and address racial disparities among youth in different stages of the juvenile justice process. The Department welcomes feedback from the community. If you have comments or concerns, please feel free to contact us via email at Community.StLouis@usdoj.gov.
Investigation of the Dallas County Truancy Court and Juvenile District Courts
The Justice Department opened an investigation of the Truancy Court and Juvenile District Courts of Dallas County, Texas. The investigation will focus on whether the courts provide due process for children charged with the criminal offense of failure to attend school and for children whom the courts charge with contempt. The investigation will also focus on whether the courts provide meaningful access to the judicial process for children with disabilities. The Department welcomes feedback from the community. If you have comments or concerns, please feel free to contact us via email at Community.email@example.com or by phone at 1-855-258-1433.
Findings Report Regarding the Ferguson Police Department
On March 4, 2015, DOJ announced the results of its investigation of the Ferguson Police Department (FPD), finding that FPD's police and municipal court practices systematically violate the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. DOJ determined that FPD's approach to law enforcement is unduly focused on revenue generation and that its practices both reflect and exacerbate existing race bias.
Dear Colleague Letter on the Civil Rights of Students in Juvenile Justice Residential Facilities
Dear Colleague Letter from the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights and DOJ's Civil Rights Division clarifying that those juvenile justice residential facilities that receive Federal funding, like all other public schools, must comply with Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, and disability.
Order and Exhibit Regarding Seclusion in Ohio Juvenile Correctional Facilities
In May 2014, the Department of Justice and private plaintiffs reached an agreement with the state of Ohio, under which the State Department of Youth Services will dramatically reduce, and eventually eliminate, its use of seclusion on young people in its custody.
Complaint regarding the Meridian (MS) Police Department, the Lauderdale County (MS) Juvenile Court, and the Mississippi Division of Youth Services
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the City of Meridian, Miss.; Lauderdale County, Miss.; judges of the Lauderdale County Youth Court; and the state of Mississippi alleging that the defendants systematically violate the due process rights of juveniles. In June of 2015, the Department filed a proposed joint settlement agreements with two of the original Defendants, the City of Meridian and the state of Mississippi. The Department welcomes feedback from the community. If you have comments or concerns, please feel free to contact us at Community.Meridian@usdoj.gov.
Civil Rights Division Sends Letter to Alabama Law Enforcement Agencies About Alabama Immigration Law
On December 2, 2011, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas E. Perez sent identical letters to more than 150 local law enforcement agencies in Alabama, informing them of the Division’s monitoring activities and reminding them of their obligations to engage in non-discriminatory policing. Read More