Special Litigation Section Case Summaries

Corrections
Juvenile Justice
Disability Rights Docket
Law Enforcement Agencies
FACE
Religious Exercise of Institutionalized Persons
Archives -- closed matters

CORRECTIONS

Alabama's State Prisons for Men

In October 2016, we opened an investigation into allegations of prisoner-on-prisoner assault and sexual abuse; staff excessive force and sexual abuse; and unsanitary and unsafe conditions in Alabama’s men’s prisons, under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.  In April 2019, we found that the Alabama Department of Corrections violates the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution by failing to protect prisoners in its men’s prisons from prisoner-on-prisoner violence and prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse, and by failing to provide safe conditions.  Our Notice of these CRIPA violations can be found hereOur investigation of staff excessive force and sexual abuse remains ongoing. 

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Baltimore City Detention Center

On October 16, 2000, we notified Maryland officials of our investigation into conditions in the Baltimore City Detention Center in Baltimore, Maryland. On August 13, 2002, we issued our findings. We identified serious problems including the failure to provide adequate protection from harm, inadequate medical and mental health care, and unsafe living conditions. We entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the State in January 16, 2007. Portions of the Memorandum were extended in April 2012. The United States is currently monitoring the State's efforts to address issues that were not fully resolved by the Memorandum of Agreement including juvenile programs, life safety conditions, and mental health care.

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Cook County Jail

On July 11, 2008, following an investigation under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, we found unconstitutional conditions at the Cook County Jail. The problems identified in our findings letter included problems with security and safety, protection from harm, use of force, medical and mental health care, fire and life safety, and sanitation. On May 26, 2010, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois entered an Agreed Order that addressed those issues and appointed four experts in the areas of Corrections, Medical, Mental Health, and Sanitation to monitor Defendants' compliance with the Order, found here. These monitors submit reports to the court on a semiannual basis. The document here provides more information about our investigation and findings.

Tenth Monitoring Report on Protection From Harm (2015)   |   
Tenth Monitoring Report on Fire, Life Safety, and Environmental Health (2015)     

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Dallas County Jail

On March 21, 2012, the Division entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding certain conditions at the Dallas County Jail. In 2007, the Division had entered into a Court-approved Agreed Order, found here, terminated in November 2011. Based on the jurisdiction's substantial compliance with virtually all of the Agreed Order, and based on the fact that areas in only partial compliance were primarily tied to the construction of a new infirmary, the parties jointly moved for termination of the Agreed Order, and that request was granted by the District Court. The MOU, found here, requires the County to: (1) maintain compliance in all areas where substantial compliance had already been achieved; (2) achieve substantial compliance in the areas that were in partial compliance; (3) permit compliance monitoring and access by the United States and an Independent Monitor; and (4) bear the costs of monitoring by the Independent Monitor and any consultants he hires.

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Erie County Correctional Facility and Erie County Jail

The United States and Erie County entered two court-enforceable agreements to remedy unconstitutional conditions at the Erie County Jail and the Erie County Correctional Facility in Buffalo, New York. Our investigation under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act found systemic constitutional violations in the areas of suicide prevention, mental health and medical care, excessive force and protection from harm, and environmental safety (click here). The first agreement was entered in June 2010 to address immediately the problems with suicide prevention. The second agreement, entered in August 2011, remedies the remaining problems. The Department and two Technical Compliance Coordinators monitor the County's compliance with the agreements.

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Franklin County Jail

In November 2010, we filed a Statement of Interest in a class action lawsuit challenging the Franklin County Sheriff's Office's use of conducted electric devices ("CEDs") (commonly known as "tasers") against detainees in its jails. We then filed a motion asking the Court to allow us to intervene as a party in this lawsuit. Our Complaint in Intervention alleged that the Franklin County Sheriff's Office violated 42 U.S.C. § 14141 by engaging in an unconstitutional pattern and practice of using CEDs in an abusive manner, failing to adequately investigate use of CEDs, and failing to adequately train corrections deputies in the use of CEDs. In February 2011, we resolved these claims by entering a court-enforceable settlement agreement with Franklin County. The Settlement Agreement requires the Franklin County Sheriff's Office to reforms its policies, procedures and training on use of CEDs and its internal investigations of all uses of CEDs. The Department monitors compliance with the Settlement Agreement.

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Fulton County Jail

On June 20, 2019, the Division and the USAO for the Northern District of Georgia filed a Statement of Interest for the preliminary injunction motion in Georgia Advocacy Office v. Jackson, a conditions of confinement case alleging Constitutional and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violations arising from the County’s prolonged restrictive housing of female prisoners with serious mental illness in the Fulton County Jail.  The private case was filed by the Georgia Advocacy Office and the Southern Center For Human Rights, on behalf of two individual Plaintiffs, M.J. and K.H.; and two classes of similarly situated women in the Fulton County Jail system with serious mental illness who were placed in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time because of their mental health condition.  The lawsuit challenges the Jail’s policy and use of solitary confinement for these women as violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.  Plaintiffs also allege that these women were denied services, programs and activities in violation of the ADA.  The Statement of Interest noted that the United States had investigated similar issues in its investigation of the Hampton Roads Regional Jail and referred the court to the legal discussion in that CRIPA notice, which addressed the rights of prisoners with serious mental illness housed in solitary confinement.  See CRIPA Notice re: the Hampton Roads Regional Jail.   

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Georgia Department of Corrections

On February 5, 2016, we notified the Attorney General of Georgia of our investigation into the treatment of transgender and gay prisoners in the custody of the Georgia Department of Corrections. We are partnering with the three U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Georgia to conduct the investigation. The investigation focuses on whether Georgia adequately protects transgender and gay prisoners from sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and assault by both staff and other prisoners.

Anyone with information related to this investigation may contact the Special Litigation Section through the following means:

  • Toll-Free Phone Number: (844) 401-3736
  • Email Address: Community.GeorgiaDOC@usdoj.gov
  • Mailing Address: Monica DiGiandomenico, Outreach Specialist Special Litigation Section U.S. Department of Justice Patrick Henry Building 601 D Street, NW Washington, DC 20530

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Golden Grove Adult Correctional and Detention Facility

 In May 1985, we opened an investigation of the Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility (“Golden Grove”) pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.  We issued a letter of findings from this investigation on January 23, 1986, advising that the Department had reasonable cause to believe prisoners at Golden Grove were being subjected to egregious conditions of confinement pursuant to a pattern or practice of constitutional violations.  The Department filed a CRIPA complaint on October 23, 1986, alleging constitutional violations in the areas of security, environmental health and safety, fire safety, and medical care.  The case was settled pursuant to a consent decree approved by the federal district court on December 1, 1986. 

After years of non-compliance with the consent decree, the federal court granted the Department’s motion for contempt in 2006, ordering the appointment of a Special Master to oversee compliance.  Despite the appointment of a Special Master, the Territory persisted in its non-compliance.  The Department ultimately filed a receivership motion in 2011, which, after years of litigation, resulted in a new settlement agreement entered by the court in 2013.  The court-enforceable settlement agreement provides for comprehensive relief to correct deficiencies in all areas of Golden Grove’s operations and an Independent Monitor who oversees compliance through onsite facility inspections and regular updates to the court through status conferences held at least three times per year.

Order Granting U.S. Motion for Contempt (2006)   |   Motion for Appointment of a Receiver and Memo in Support (2011)   |   Order Approving Settlement (2013)   |   Motion to Show Cause (2014)   |   Joint Motion for Stipulation (2014)   |   Opinion on Contempt Regarding Monitor Payment (2014)   |   Order on Contempt Regarding Monitor Payment (2014)   |   Notice of Objections and Motion Requesting Emergency Status Conference (2015)   |   Order Regarding Status Conference (2015)   |   First Monitoring Report (2013)   |   Second Monitoring Report (2014)   |   Third Monitoring Report (2014)   |   Fourth Monitoring Report (2014)   |   Fifth Monitoring Report (2014)   |   Sixth Monitoring Report (2015)   |   Seventh Monitoring Report (2015)   |   Eighth Monitoring Report (2015)   |   Ninth Monitoring Report (2015)   |   Tenth Monitoring Report (2016)   |   US Objections to Staffing Plan (2015)   |   Order re US Objections to Staffing Plan (2016)   |   March 18th Order (2016)   |   Letter re Corrections Officer Agreement (2016)   |   Eleventh Monitoring Report (2016)

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Grant County Detention Center

On November 4, 2003, we notified Grant County officials of our investigation into conditions in the Grant County Detention Center in Williamstown, Kentucky. On May 18, 2005, we issued our findings. We found that county officials had not taken adequate steps to protect prisoners from harm and to provide medical care. The County agreed to implement remedial measures in an August 2009 letter of agreement.

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Guam Jail and Prisons

In May of 1991, the Court entered a Settlement Agreement between the United States and the Territory of Guam to remedy unconstitutional conditions in the Territory’s jail and prison facilities. The Settlement Agreement requires the Territory to make reforms in the areas of fire safety, security, sanitation, and the provision of medical, mental, and dental health care. The Territory has complied with a majority of the Settlement Agreement’s requirements, but is still working to remedy a few outstanding fire safety issues and its provision of health care to inmates and detainees. On January 16, 2015, the Court entered an Order establishing a schedule of objectives and deadlines, agreed to by the Parties, under which the Territory shall implement required reforms in fire safety and health care by November 2015. The Department of Justice‘s enforcement of the Settlement Agreement includes working cooperatively with the Territory and the Independent Monitor to ensure that detainees and inmates in Guam have adequate access to routine health care and safe environmental conditions.

Order Regarding Objectives and Deadlines (2015)

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Harris County Jail

On June 4, 2009, we found unconstitutional conditions in our investigation of the Harris County Jail (HCJ) under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. We found that HCJ failed to provide prisoners with adequate medical care, mental health care, protection from serious physical harm, and protection from life safety hazards. The document here provides more information about our investigation, findings and remedial measures necessary to address our findings.

Return to Cases/Matters page.July 19, 2016 Settlement Agreement

Hinds County Adult Detention Center

On May 21, 2015, the Department of Justice concluded that there is reasonable basis to believe that Hinds County, Mississippi violates prisoners’ constitutional rights at the Hinds County Adult Detention Center and the Jackson City Detention Center by failing to protect prisoners from violence by other prisoners and from improper use of force by staff.  The Department also found that the jail facilities detain prisoners beyond court-ordered release dates.  On July 19, 2016, the federal district court for the Southern District of Mississippi entered as its order a Settlement Agreement between the Department and Hinds County to remedy these deficiencies.  After a Court Monitor reported continued violations of the Settlement, the Department filed a motion to show cause for contempt on June 24, 2019.  The Court set a trial date for December 16, 2019.  On the first day of trial, the parties submitted a proposed Stipulated Order to resolve their dispute. The Court heard oral argument from the parties about the Stipulated Order and issued Stipulated Order on January 16, 2020.

Joint Motion for Entry of Proposed Settlement Agreement (2016)   |   Order Approving Settlement Agreement (2016)    |   Court Opinion (2020)   |   Stipulated Order (2020)

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Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women

In April 2013 we conducted an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.  In January 2013 we found unconstitutional conditions which subjected prisoners to a substantial risk of harm.  These conditions included staff sexual abuse and sexual harassment of prisoners, prison officials’ failure to adequately respond and investigate allegations of sexual abuse and harassment, and systemic deficiencies that directly contribute to staff and prisoner sexual abuse and staff sexual harassment.  In the findings letter we also noticed an expanded investigation into protection from harm, medical care, mental healthcare, and sanitation, which commenced in June 2014.  On July 8, 2015 the District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Northern Division entered a consent decree between the United States and the State of Alabama, which can be found here.  Since that time, we have accompanied the court-appointed monitor on twice yearly visits to the prison, in order to determine how successfully Alabama has implemented the changes outlined in the decree.  Following each visit, the monitor has filed reports with the court that provide updates on the status of Alabama’s compliance with the decree.

Joint Motion to Enter Settlement Agreement (2015)   |    Judgment Regarding Consent Decree (2015)   |   Opinion Regarding Consent Decree (2015)

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Lake County Jail

In December 2011, we entered into a court enforceable Settlement Agreement with Lake County (click here) to remedy the unconstitutional conditions we found in our investigation of the Lake County Jail under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. The Settlement Agreement addresses problems we found with suicide prevention, use of force, medical care, mental health care, fire and life safety, sanitation, and training. The document here provides more information about our investigation and findings. The Department monitors compliance with the Settlement Agreement every six months and files a report with the Court.

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Miami-Dade County Jail

On August 24, 2011, we made findings of unlawful conditions at the Miami-Dade County Jail (MDCJ). Our investigation was conducted under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. We found that MDCJ provided prisoners with inadequate mental health care and suicide prevention; failed to protect prisoners from physical harm; and failed to provide sanitary and safe conditions. The document here provides more information about our investigation and findings.

Memorandum of Agreement (2013)   |   Order Approving Consent Agreement (2013)

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Mississippi Department of Corrections

On February 5, 2020, we opened an investigation into conditions of confinement in four of Mississippi’s prisons under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.  The investigation will examine conditions at the Mississippi State Penitentiary (Parchman), Southern Mississippi Correctional Institute, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, and the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility. The State of Mississippi is responsible for all four facilities. The investigation will focus on whether the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) adequately protects prisoners from physical harm at the hands of other prisoners at all of the Prisons; and also whether MDOC violates the constitutional rights of prisoners through inadequate suicide prevention, including inadequate mental health care and prolonged exposure to isolation, at Parchman.

Individuals with relevant information are encouraged to contact the Department via phone at 1-833-591-0288 or by email at Community.MSDoc@usdoj.gov.

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Mobile County Metro Jail

On January 15, 2009, we notified Mobile County officials of the results of our investigation into conditions at the Mobile County Metro Jail (MCMJ). The County initially cooperated in this investigation under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, but ceased communicating about the investigation in 2007. We continued our investigation through alternate sources and found unconstitutional conditions at MCMJ, including problems with inadequate mental health care; excessive restraint; failure to protect prisoners from physical harm; and unsafe and unsanitary conditions. The document here provides more information about our investigation and findings.

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Muscogee County Jail

In October 1994, we opened an investigation of the Muscogee County Jail pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq. The investigation focused on the areas of security, medical and mental health care, suicide prevention, and environmental health and safety. We issued a letter of findings from this investigation on June 1, 1995, outlining serious constitutional deficiencies in all areas. On September 30, 1999, a federal district court approved and entered a consent agreement to correct these conditions. In January 2015, we entered a new agreement that will wind down enforcement of the long-standing consent decree. The new agreement expands on the 1999 decree by adding crucial safeguards for prisoners with serious mental illness, including landmark restrictions on the use of solitary confinement.

Monitoring Report (2015)   |    Monitoring Report (March 2016)   |   Monitoring Report (April 2016)   |   Monitoring Report (May 2016)   |   Monitoring Report (October 2016)   |    Monitoring Report (April 2017)   |   Monitoring Report (October 2017)   |    Monitoring Report (September 2018)   

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Oklahoma County Jail

On July 31, 2008, we made findings of unlawful conditions at the Oklahoma County Jail and Jail Annex (OCJ) pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. We found that OCJ failed to provide detainees reasonable protection from harm; constitutionally-required mental health care services; adequate housing, sanitation and environmental protections; and protection from serious fire-safety risks. The document here provides more information on our investigation and findings. We entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the County addressing conditions at the Jail on November 5, 2009.

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Orange County Jail

On December 23, 2008, we notified Orange County officials of our investigation into conditions in the Orange County Jail (OCJ) in Santa Ana, California. On March 4, 2014, we issued a letter with notice of the results of our investigation. We identified a number of concerns and recommendations involving the use of force, supervision practices, medical care, and mental health care.  On December 17, 2019, we closed our investigation based on completed, ongoing, and planned improvements to the Jail.

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Orleans Parish Prisons

On September 22, 2009, we found unconstitutional conditions in our investigation of the Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. We found that OPP fails to protect prisoners from harm, including from use of excessive force by staff and violence from other prisoners. We also found that prisoners do not receive adequate mental health care and are exposed to dangerous environmental and sanitation conditions. The document here provides more information about our investigation and findings. On April 23, 2012, we issued an update to our 2009 findings that details continued problems.

On September 24, 2012, we filed a motion to intervene in a private lawsuit involving conditions at Orleans Parish Prison Jones v. Gusman, No. 2:12-cv-00859 (LMA) (E.D. La., filed Apr. 2,2012). The motion to intervene can be found here; the memorandum of law in support of the motion here; and the proposed complaint in intervention here.

Order Approving Consent Judgment (2013)   |   Stipulated Order (February 2015)   |   Stipulated Order (April 2015)   |   Stipulated Order for Appointment of Independent Jail Compliance Director (2016)   |   Job Announcement for Independent Jail Compliance Director (2016)   |   Job Announcement for Independent Jail Compliance Director (2018)

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Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

On November 30, 2011, we opened an investigation into conditions at a State Correctional Institution in Cresson, Pennsylvania. On May 31, 2013, we issued our findings. We concluded that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections' (PDOC) use of long-term and extreme forms of solitary confinement on prisoners with serious mental illness at Cresson, many of whom also have intellectual disabilities, violated their rights under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We also expanded our investigation statewide, focusing on similar issues. On February 24, 2014, we issued findings concluding that PDOC was violating the rights of prisoners under the Eighth Amendment and the ADA statewide across Pennsylvania's 26 prisons.On April 14, 2016 we closed our investigation following significant improvements made by PDOC to its policies and practices that are intended to protect prisoners with serious mental illness and intellectual disabilities from the harmful effects of solitary confinement. PDOC worked to ensure that these prisoners are no longer subjected to solitary confinement and are instead provided with specialized treatment to meet their individualized needs. Our closing letter also identified areas where continued efforts at improvement would be appropriate.

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Piedmont Regional Jail Authority

U.S. v. Piedmont Regional Jail Authority, a case in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, concerns the rights of prisoners at the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Va., to receive appropriate medical can mental health care. In March 2011, the Justice Department launched an investigation, using its authority under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, (CRIPA), into allegations that the Piedmont Regional Jail was not providing prisoners with constitutionally adequate medical care. In September 2012, the Justice Department released its findings that deficiencies in medical and mental health care at the jail exposed prisoners to an unreasonable risk of serious harm, and thus violated the Constitution. In September 2013, the Justice Department filed a complaint and simultaneous settlement agreement in the District Court, resolving the investigation. The settlement agreement was entered as an Order of the Court by Judge James Spencer on October 1, 2013. The agreement requires that the jail employs adequate, and sufficiently-credentialed, medical and mental health personnel; performs timely screening and appropriate health assessments of prisoners; establishes a chronic care program and an acceptable sick call process; provides clear policies and sufficient training to its staff; excludes certain essential services and follow-up services from co-payments, and otherwise reduces co-payments so that prisoners are not deterred from seeking needed health care. The agreement also requires the jail to develop and track data to analyze the performance of medical and mental health staff and work with an independent monitor to implement the changes described in the agreement and to evaluate the jail's success in effecting meaningful reform.

First Monitor's Report (2014)   |   Second Monitor's Report (2015)   |  Third Monitor's Report (2015)   | Fourth Monitor's Report (2016)   |  Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)  |  Seventh Monitor's Report (2017)    

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Robertson County Detention Center

On July 13, 2010, we notified the County of our intent to open an investigation of conditions at the Robertson County Detention Center. On August 26, 2011, we issued our findings that Robertson County failed to protect prisoners from harm due to inadequate suicide prevention measures and inadequate mental health services. On April 26, 2013, we entered into a Settlement Agreement with Robertson County to remedy the unconstitutional conditions at the Detention Center. The Settlement Agreement, found here, includes comprehensive provisions aimed at protecting prisoners from the harm and risk of harm due to an inadequate suicide prevention program, including appropriate screening by a qualified mental health professional to assess suicide risk; appropriate supervision, observation, and monitoring of prisoners identified as at risk of suicide; comprehensive policies and protocols to ensure that prisoners at risk of self harm are identified, protected, and treated; and adequate training in suicide prevention practices. The Settlement Agreement also contains comprehensive relief in a wide range of important areas involving mental health, including adequate assessments by trained professional staff, adequate multi-disciplinary treatment plans, appropriate medication administration, a quality assurance/performance improvement program, and adequate training on all mental health policies and procedures. The Settlement Agreement is an enforceable Order of the Court with compliance periodically assessed by an independent Monitor. The document found here is the Monitor's May 31, 2013 report.

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St. Tammany Parish Jail

In April 2011, we opened an investigation concerning the conditions at the St. Tammany Parish Jail ("St. Tammany") under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act . In July 2012, we found that unlawful conditions at St. Tammany violated the constitutional rights of prisoners. We found that St. Tammany failed to provide prisoners with adequate mental health care and suicide prevention. On August 15, 2013, the United States negotiated a Memorandum of Agreement to address the findings. The documents here provide more information about our investigation, findings, remedial measures, and settlement.

First Monitor's Report (2014)   |   Second Monitor's Report (2014)   |   Third Monitor's Report (2015)    |   Fourth Monitor's Report (2016)   |   Fifth Monitor's Report (2016)

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Topeka Correctional Facility

On May 23-26, 2011, we conducted an onsite inspection of the Topeka Correctional Facility ("TCF") to assess whether prisoners at TCF were subject to sexual abuse in violation of their constitutional rights under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. On September 6, 2012, we issued a Findings Letter in which we concluded that TCF failed to protect women prisoners from harm due to sexual abuse and misconduct by correctional staff and other prisoners in violation of their constitutional rights. On December 22, 2014 , the United States and the state of Kansas entered into a Memorandum of Agreement to address the findings. The Memorandum of Agreement, found here, requires the state to faithfully abide by the requirements embodied in the Prison Rape Elimination Act. The state will mandate zero tolerance toward all forms of sexual abuse and sexual harassment and implement policies and procedures that are designed to prevent, detect, and respond to such conduct; formulate a staffing plan that provides for adequate levels of staffing and, where applicable, video monitoring, to protect prisoners against sexual abuse; implement a classification system specific to the female population at TCF; maintain a risk assessment process that adequately identifies potential predators and victims; train TCF staff on all its responsibilities to prevent sexual abuse, including indentifying, detecting, reporting, and responding to incidents of sexual abuse; maintain guidelines for timely initiating and concluding investigations; ensure prompt corrective action following any administrative or criminal finding of sexual abuse or sexual harassment and subject staff to disciplinary sanctions up to and including termination; and maintain a grievance process that provides multiple internal ways for prisoners to privately report sexual abuse and sexual harassment, and any retaliation by other prisoners or staff. The agreement requires a Monitor to oversee implementation of the Agreement and issue a compliance report every six months.

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Westchester County Jail

In 2007 we conducted a joint investigation with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York concerning conditions at the Westchester County Jail (WCJ). In November 2009, we found that unlawful conditions at WCJ violated the constitutional rights of inmates. We found that WCJ prisoners are not adequately protected from harm, including physical harm from use of excessive by staff, and do not receive adequate medical and mental health care. We continue to assess information about current conditions at the WCJ. The document here provides more information about our investigation under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act and findings.

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JUVENILE JUSTICE

H.C. v. Bradshaw

In October 2018, the United States filed a Statement of Interest in H.C. v. Bradshaw, a lawsuit filed on behalf of children who had been criminally charged as adults and were being held in solitary confinement in the Palm Beach County Jail in West Palm Beach, Florida. Defendants in the lawsuit were the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office and the Palm Beach County School Board.  The complaint included a claim alleging that defendants were depriving students with disabilities in solitary confinement access to special education services in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400-1482 (2012) (IDEA).  Plaintiffs’ Complaint can be found here.  Each defendant denied liability by alleging the other defendant was responsible for ensuring that students with disabilities in the jail receive special education services.  The United States filed a Statement of Interest to affirm that otherwise eligible youth in adult jails are covered by the IDEA, and that both defendants are obligated to ensure that such youth receive the special education services to which they are entitled.  The parties subsequently settled the case; the settlement agreement can be found here.

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Indiana Juvenile Facilities

The United States has open investigations of two of Indiana's juvenile justice facilities. Those facilities are the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility ("Pendleton") and the Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility ("Indianapolis," now known as Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility). The Department, along with experts in protection from harm, suicide prevention, mental health care, and special education, visited each facility several times. On January 29, 2010, the United States issued an investigative findings letter regarding Indianapolis, the State's sole girls' facility. On August 22, 2012, the United States issued a findings letter regarding Pendleton. As described in our letters, we found that each facility failed to provide youth with adequate protection from harm, mental health care, and special education services, in violation of the Constitution and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Resolution of our findings is pending.

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Kenny, et al v. Wilson, et al

In November 2016 the Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in Kenny, et al v. Wilson, et al. articulating the United States’ position that laws invoked to charge juveniles must include clear standards to ensure that they are enforced consistently and free from discrimination. In Kenny, a case before the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, a proposed class of students and a non-profit youth services organization allege that two state laws – the disturbing schools statute and the disorderly conduct statute – are unconstitutionally vague. As a consequence, plaintiffs assert, the laws do not provide students with notice of what conduct is criminally prohibited and they lead to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. In Kenny, the plaintiffs allege that African-American students are nearly four times more likely to be referred for criminal “disturbing schools” charges than white students and that the disparity is even starker in certain counties.

The brief emphasizes that vague statues enforced arbitrarily contribute to the “school-to-prison pipeline,” the cycle of harsh school discipline that brings young people into the justice system and disproportionately affects, among others, students of color and students with disabilities. In the filing, the department explains that “significant racial disparities in the enforcement of a criminal statute may indicate that the statute is unconstitutionally vague” in violation of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. Laws that lack clear standards and do not provide sufficient guidance to law enforcement can lead to arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement. The brief highlights examples from the department’s juvenile justice and law enforcement experience to illustrate the link between vague standards and unconstitutional practices.

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Lauderdale County Youth Court, Meridian Police Department, and Mississippi Division of Youth

In October 2012, the United States filed a lawsuit against the City of Meridian, Mississippi; Lauderdale County, Mississippi; the Judges of the Lauderdale County Youth Court; and the State of Mississippi, alleging that these defendants systematically violated the due process rights of Meridian’s children by incarcerating and disproportionately punishing children accused solely of minor offenses, including school disciplinary infractions.  The lawsuit alleged that defendants violated 34 U.S.C. § 12601, which authorizes the Attorney General to file a civil lawsuit to seek remedies for systemic violations of the constitution or federal law by government agencies involved in the administration of juvenile justice.  On September 18, 2015, the United States District Court entered orders approving two settlement agreements – one between the United States and the City of Meridian on youth policing practices and a second between the United States the State of Mississippi on youth probation practices.  The agreements included reforms regarding policies, practices and training.  Monitoring reports filed about the City’s compliance with the policing agreement can be found below.  Monitoring reports filed about the State’s compliance with the probation agreement can be found below.

On September 30, 2017, the District Court dismissed the United States’ allegations against Lauderdale County and the Lauderdale County Youth Court Judges.  On February 1, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s dismissal, holding that the Youth Court is not a “governmental agency” within the meaning of the 34 U.S.C. § 12601. 

The Department welcomes feedback from the community about this case. If you have comments or concerns, please feel free to contact us via email at Community.Meridian@crt.usdoj.gov or by phone at 855-544-5131.

Joint Motion to Enter City Settlement (2015)   |   Memo in Support of Joint Motion to Enter City Settlement (2015)   |  Joint Motion to Enter State Settlement (2015)   |   Memo in Support of Joint Motion to Enter State Settlement (2015)   |   First Report of the Probation Services Independent Auditor (2016)   |   Second Report of the Probation Services Independent Auditor (2016)   |   First Report of the Police Independent Auditor (2016)   |   Third Report of the Probation Services Independent Auditor (2017)   |   Second Report of the Police Independent Auditor (2017)   |   Fourth Report of the Probation Services Independent Auditor (2017)   | Fifth Report of the Probation Services Independent Auditor (2018)   |   Letter from Department of Justice (2018)   |   Department's Briefs on Appeal (2018)   |   Compliance Assessment Table (2018)  |   Sixth Report of the Probation Services Independent Auditor (2018)  |  First Report Regarding Probation Services Settlement Agreement (2019)   |   Notice of Filing (2019)   

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Leflore County Juvenile Detention Center

In March 2011, the United States issued an investigative findings letter summarizing our investigation and concluding that conditions at the Leflore County Juvenile Detention Center violated the constitutional and federal statutory rights of the youth confined there. Leflore is a 30-bed short-term facility that serves large numbers of children annually due to high turnover and repeat confinements." The United States concluded that youth confined to Leflore County Juvenile Detention Center are: (1) exposed to excessive physical restraint and isolation as a means of discipline; (2) exposed to great risk of harm from inadequate mental health care, including inadequate screening, monitoring and treatment of youth who are suicidal; and (3) given inadequate educational opportunities.

On May 12, 2015, the United States filed a complaint concerning conditions at the Leflore County Juvenile Detention Center in the federal district court for the Northern District of Mississippi.  On May 13, 2015, the United States and Leflore County jointly asked the court to approve a settlement agreement to resolve the United States’ complaint.  On June 18, 2015, the court entered as its order a settlement agreement between the United States and the Leflore County Board of Supervisors. The agreement includes significant reforms regarding protection against harm and includes commitments eventually to eliminate disciplinary seclusion and restrict the use of cool-down seclusion.

After the state of Mississippi took control of the Leflore County School District, we expanded our investigation to include Mississippi’s role in providing educational services at the Juvenile Detention Center school. On January 12, 2016, the United States issued an investigative findings letter to the state of Mississippi describing our investigation and concluding that the provision of special education services at the Detention Center school violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400-1482 ("IDEA"). The letter found three specific violations of the IDEA. First, the Detention Center school failed to implement appropriate policies and procedures to identify, locate, and evaluate children with disabilities for special education services. Second, when children entered the Detention Center already identified as requiring special education services, the Detention Center school did not obtain the student’s individualized education program (IEP) promptly. Third, because children with disabilities were either unidentified or their IEPs were not obtained promptly, the Detention Center school failed to provide them a free appropriate public education.

On June 26, 2019, the United States closed its investigation of the state of Mississippi regarding the provision of special education services at the Detention Center school.  As described in the closing letter, the United States determined that the Detention Center school had improved practices in three key areas:  (1) implementing appropriate Child Find policies to identify, locate and evaluate children with disabilities; (2) promptly obtaining students’ IEPs and related records from their home schools; and (3) providing students with the educational services described in their IEPs. 

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Los Angeles County Juvenile Probation Camps

In October 2008, the United States and the County of Los Angeles ("County") agreed to remedy conditions in the Los Angeles County Probation Camps ("Camps"). At the time of the investigation, the County operated 19 Camps, which housed approximately 2,200 youth. Theagreement resolved the United States' investigation and findings of unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Specifically, the United States found that the Camps failed to protect youth from harm and failed to provide youth with adequate suicide prevention and mental health services. By October 2012, the County had complied with most of the provisions of the agreement, but several remained outstanding. The parties then amended the agreement to include additional specificity regarding the outstanding provisions, and to add a new provision requiring the County to increase access to community-based placements as alternatives to incarceration. The County is expected to reach compliance with the amended agreement by December 31, 2014. A team of independent monitors evaluates the County's compliance.

11th Monitoring Report (2014)

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New York Juvenile Facilities

In 2009, the Department issued findings that New York violated children’s constitutional rights at four residential facilities through the use of excessive force, inappropriate restraints, failure to investigate and hold staff accountable, failure to evaluate and diagnose mental health conditions, inappropriate medication practices, and insufficient programming to address substance abuse disorders. The findings covered four state-operated juvenile facilities:  Finger Lakes Residential Center, Lansing Residential Center, Tryon Residential Center, and Tryon Girls Center. On July 14, 2010, the United States and New York entered into a consent decree to address the constitutional violations detailed in the findings letter.  As a result of closures and consolidations, three facilities were ultimately subject to the consent decree’s monitoring provisions:  Finger Lakes Residential Center, Columbia Girls Secure Center, and Taberg Residential Center. On September 8, 2014, the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York issued an Order dismissing Columbia from monitoring under the consent decree, granting a joint motion to dismiss.  On December 21, 2015, the court issued an Order dismissing Finger Lakes from monitoring under the consent decree, granting the parties joint motion to dismiss.  Finally, on October 20, 2017, the court issued an Order dismissing Taberg from monitoring thereby ending the consent decree.  The state came into substantial compliance with the consent decree regarding each facility.

Joint Motion to Dismiss Columbia Girls Secure Center from Agreement (2014)   |   10th Monitoring Report (Columbia, 2013)   |   20th Monitoring Report (Finger Lakes, 2015)   |   21st Monitoring Report (Taberg, 2015)   |   22nd Monitoring Report (Taberg, 2015) Joint Motion to Dismiss Specific Settlement Agreement Paragraphs (2015)   |   Order Granting Joint Motion to Dismiss Paragraphs (2015)   |   Joint Motion to Dismiss Finger Lakes Residential Center (2015)   |   23rd Monitoring Report (Taberg, 2016)   |   24th Monitoring Report (Taberg, 2016)

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Onondaga County Jail

In January 2017, the Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in V.W. v. Conway regarding the use of solitary confinement on juveniles in the Onondaga County Justice Center in Syracuse, New York.  We articulated the United States’ position that juveniles should not be placed in solitary confinement. We also addressed the scientific consensus from child psychology experts and researchers that solitary confinement should be banned for juveniles, and that courts have recognized the developmental vulnerability of juvenile brains and the irreversible damage that solitary confinement can inflict on adolescents.  In February 2017, the Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction.  In the Order, the Court described our statement of interest in the background section and cited to it in addressing the broad consensus that juveniles are psychologically more vulnerable than adults.  The Court ordered the Onondaga County Justice Center to immediately cease “imposing 23-hour disciplinary isolation on juveniles.”

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Puerto Rico Juvenile Facilities

In 1997, the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico entered into a Consent Order to remedy the unconstitutional conditions the United States identified in several juvenile facilities throughout Puerto Rico. The agreement seeks to: protect children from harm and unsafe conditions, including violence and sexual abuse at the hands of facility staff; ensure that children receive education while confined; and ensure that they are provided adequate medical and mental health care. The Department of Justice is actively litigating this case and continues to push for reform.

Monitoring Report (2015, Third Quarter)   |   Monitoring Report (2015, Fourth Quarter)   |   Monitoring Report (2016, First Quarter)   |   Monitoring Report (2016, Second Quarter)   |   Monitoring Report (2016, Third Quarter)   |   Monitoring Report (2016, Fourth Quarter)   |   Monitoring Report (2017, First Quarter)   |   Monitoring Report (2017, Second Quarter) and Attachment   |   Monitoring Report (2017, Third Quarter)   |   Joint Request for Monitor Applications (2018) 

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Scioto and Marion Juvenile Correctional Facilities

In June 2008, the United States and the State of Ohio entered into a court enforceable Consent Decree to remedy the unconstitutional conditions the United States found at the Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility ("Scioto") and Marion Juvenile Correctional Facility ("Marion"). The Consent Decree required the State to reform its policies, procedures, and practices in the following areas: (1) protection from harm, (2) education, (3) mental health, (4) programming and orientation, (5) medical care, and (6) grievances. Since 2008, the United States has worked with monitors to assess the State's compliance with the various provisions in the Consent Decree. In 2009, Marion was closed and no longer monitored.

In June 2011, the United States and the State revised and extended their agreement. Because the State had demonstrated compliance with certain provisions of the Consent Decree, the parties agreed to dismiss those provisions. The United States monitored a variety of provisions involving mental health, protection from harm, special education, grievances and programming and orientation. As part of this process, the United States visited Scioto, interviewed youth, reviewed documentation and worked with the Monitor.

In December 2012, the United States and the State reached a supplemental agreement to reform the State's use of isolation and failure to provide treatment in the special management unit at Scioto. The Court approved this agreement in January 2013. Between November 2013 and January 2014, however, monitoring data revealed that the State continued to use unlawful seclusion on youth at Scioto as well as youth at Indian River Juvenile Correctional Facility ("Indian River"), Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility ("Circleville") and Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility ("Cuyahoga Hills").

On March 12, 2014, the Justice Department sought to supplement its original complaint to include the continuing use of unlawful seclusion at Indian River, Circleville and Cuyahoga Hills. The Court granted the motion on March 28, 2014.

On May 21, 2014, the Court entered an Agreed Order resolving allegations that the State unlawfully subjected youth with mental health needs to harmful seclusion and withheld treatment and programming, in violation of their constitutional rights. Under the Agreed Order, the State pledged to dramatically curtail its use of seclusion and ensure youth receive individualized mental health treatment to prevent and address violent behaviors that led to seclusion. A monitoring team was to obtain data from the State to assist in assessing the State's compliance with the Agreed Order. The Agreed Order also embodied the State's commitment eventually to eliminate the use of seclusion as a punitive measure for all youth in the State's juvenile correctional facilities.

On December 8, 2015, the federal district court for the Southern District of Ohio granted the parties’ joint motion to terminate the Agreed Order. The court noted the “remarkable improvement” in conditions of confinement at the State’s juvenile correctional facilities. The court commended the State for numerous improvements, including the abolition of the practice of disciplinary seclusion, its “vastly improved” mental health services, and a reduction in the incarcerated population from over 2000 children to fewer than 500 today. The monitoring team prepared and filed with the court a detailed report that explained the reforms the State made “to memorialize [the State’s] major policy and practice decisions for the benefit of others in the field.”

First Compliance Report (2010)   |   Second Compliance Report (2011)   |   Addendum to the Second Compliance Report (2011)   |   Third Compliance Report (2011)   |   Amended Consent Decree (2011)   |   Third Report on Amended Stipulation (2013)   |   Fourth Report on Amended Stipulation (2013)   |   Supplemental Consent Order regarding the Progress Units (2013)   |   First Status Report on Progress Units (2013)   |   Second Status Report on Progress Units (2013)   |   Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Complaint (2014)    |   Supplemental Complaint and Attachments (2014)    |   Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (2014)    |   Attachments to Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (2014)    |   Joint Motion for Entry of Agreed Order (2014)    |   Agreed Order, including Agreed Grid (2014)    |   Monitor Report on Girls (2015)    |   Monitor Report on The Ohio Model (2015)    |   

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Shelby County Juvenile Court

On April 26, 2012, Department issued findings that Shelby County’s juvenile justice system was failing to provide constitutionally required due process for all children accused of delinquent conduct and equal protection under law for accused African-American children. The Department also found that the court violated the substantive due process rights of detained youth by not providing them with reasonably safe conditions of confinement. Further, the Department found that the violations of due process were tied to a lack of access to adequate counsel, including the juvenile court’s failure to (1) hold timely probable cause hearings for children arrested without a warrant, (2) protect children from self-incrimination during probation conferences; and (3) hold hearings for children before transferring them to adult criminal court. The equal protection violations were determined by a statistical analysis showing that race contributed to the outcome of cases even after accounting for several other possible reasons for the disparity, including legal reasons (such as the nature of the charge and prior record of delinquency) and social reasons (such as age, gender, and school attendance). The practical outcome of the constitutional failings was that black children were (a) less likely to receive the benefits of more lenient options, such as a warning; (b) more than twice as likely to be detained pre-trial; and (c) likely to be recommended for transfers to adult criminal court more than two times as often as white children in similar situations. On Dec. 17, 2012, the section announced an agreement with the county and juvenile court that outlined corrective measures necessary to eradicate the Constitutional violations. The agreement included measures on (1) substantive reforms of the due process, equal protection, and facility issues; (2) community engagement; and (3) independent review by subject matter experts.  A major achievement of the agreement’s implementation was the county’s creation of a Juvenile Defender Office staffed by trained attorneys specializing in the representation of youth accused of delinquency. More rigorous review of detention decisions and safer conditions were also achieved.  The Department ended the agreement in October 2018.

First Report of the Due Process Monitor (2013)   |   Compliance Chart for First Report of the Due Process Monitor (2013)   |   First Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2013)   |   Appendix to First Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2013)   |   Cover Letter to Judge Curtis Person Regarding the First Facility Consultant Report (2013)   |   First Report of the Facility Consultant (2013)   |   Second Report of the Due Process Monitor (2013)   |   Second Report of the Facility Consultant (2013)   |   Second Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2014)   |   Assessment Study for the Second Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2014)   |    Third Report of the Facility Consultant (2014)   |   Third Report of the Due Process Monitor (2014)   |   Third Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2014)   |   Assessment Study for the Third Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2014)   |   Cover Letter Regarding the Fourth Facility Consultant Report (2014) Fourth Report of the Facility Consultant (2014)   |   Fourth Report of the Due Process Monitor and Exhibits (2014)   |    Fourth Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2015)   |   Assessment Study for the Fourth Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2015)   |   Cover Letter Regarding the Fifth Facility Consultant Report (2015)   |   Fifth Report of the Facility Consultant (2015)   |   Fifth Report of the Due Process Monitor and Exhibits (2015)   |   Fifth Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2015)   |   Assessment Study for the Fifth Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2015)   |   Sixth Report of the Facility Consultant (2015)   |   Sixth Report of the Due Process Monitor (2015)   |   Sixth Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2015)   |   Seventh Report of the Facility Consultant (2016)   |   Seventh Report of the Due Process Monitor (2016)   |   Seventh Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2016)   |   Assessment Study for the Seventh Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2016)   |   Eighth Report of the Facility Consultant (2016)   |   Eighth Report of the Due Process Monitor (2016)   |   Eighth Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2016)   |   Ninth Report of the Facility Consultant (2017)   |   Ninth Report of the Due Process Monitor (2017)   |   Ninth Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2017)   |    Tenth Report of the Facility Consultant (2017)   |   Tenth Report of the Due Process Monitor (2017)   |   Tenth Report of the Equal Protection Monitor (2017)   |   Eleventh Report of the Due Process Monitor (2018)  

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South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice

The Department of Justice investigated conditions at the Broad River Road Complex (BRRC), South Carolina’s long-term juvenile commitment facility.  The investigation considered whether the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) fails to protect youth from physical abuse by other youth and by staff, and subjects youth to prolonged solitary confinement.  On February 5, 2020, the Department concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe the conditions at BRRC violate the Fourteenth Amendment. Specifically, DJJ fails to keep youth reasonably safe from youth-on-youth violence at BRRC. Additionally, DJJ seriously harms youth by using isolation for punitive rather than legitimate purposes and by placing youth in isolation for lengthy periods. The Department continues to investigate allegations that youth are also at substantial risk of serious harm as a result of excessive force from staff.

The Department also conducted an investigation, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of DJJ’s decisions where it has the sole authority to determine whether to place youth with disabilities in its pre-sentencing residential evaluation centers, and whether DJJ reasonably modifies its pre-sentencing evaluation system to avoid disability-based discrimination. The Department’s investigation of that claim did not reveal a reasonable basis to believe that DJJ’s use of secure evaluation centers violates the ADA.

CRIPA Notice Letter (2020) 

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St. Louis County Family Court

In December 2016, the United States entered a settlement agreement with St. Louis County Family Court to resolve its investigation of constitutional violations in the Court’s administration of juvenile justice.  The United States found through its investigation that the Court systematically violated the due process and equal protection rights of children facing delinquency charges.  The settlement agreement included due process reforms addressing right to counsel, privilege against self-incrimination, and adequacy of probable cause and plea hearings.  The agreement also included reforms addressing Black children’s right to equal protection under the law.  By letter of agreement dated March 2018, the parties modified the equal protection terms of the settlement with respect to training and data collection.  Monitoring reports about the Court’s compliance with the settlement agreement can be found here.

First Report of the Independent Auditor (2017)   |   Second Report of the Independent Auditor (2018)   |   Letter Regarding Modifications to the Agreement (2018)   |   Third Report of the Independent Auditor (2018)   |   Fourth Report of the Independent Auditor (2019)   

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DISABILITY RIGHTS DOCKET

Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program v. SafetyNet Youthcare, Inc.

On October 14, 2014 the United States filed a Statement of Interest in Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program v. SafetyNet Youthcare, Inc., a case in which the defendant denied access to the local protection and advocacy organization. The Statement of Interest expresses the United States' view that facilities must permit access under the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act to all residents regardless of whether the facility characterizes some residents as having a less serious mental health disorder than others.

On December 12, 2014, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama granted summary judgment in favor of the local protection and advocacy organization. The court held that defendant's denial of access violated the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 10801 – 10851 (2012). The court issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendant from denying the protection and advocacy organization reasonable access to defendant's programs. The court's opinion is here.

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Alexander v. Mahew

On December 19, 2019, the United States filed a Statement of Interest in the case of Alexander v. Mayhew.  In Alexander, individuals on a wait list for a home and community-based services Medicaid Waiver allege that Florida’s administration of its long-term care system for people with physical or age-related disabilities who qualify for nursing facility care places them at risk of nursing facility placement.  The Statement of Interest highlights the well-settled principle that a state may violate the ADA even while carrying out CMS approved state plans, waiver services, and amendments because a state’s obligations under the ADA are independent of, and distinct from, Medicaid requirements.

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Benjamin v. Department of Public Welfare of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

In July 2010, the United States filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief in this class action. We supported the arguments made by a class of individuals with developmental disabilities who sought to end their unjustified segregation in Pennsylvania's large, publicly-run congregate care institutions. In January 2011, the Court ruled in favor of the class members, finding that Defendants had violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794, by unnecessarily institutionalizing the class members. Mem. & Order, Benjamin v. Department of Public Welfare, No. 09-cv-1182 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 27, 2011). The Court encouraged the parties to negotiate an agreement to remedy that violation. The parties submitted a settlement agreement for the Court's approval in May 2011. The Court held a fairness hearing to determine whether the agreement was fair, adequate, and reasonable. Following the hearing, in September 2011, the Court approved the agreement.

Since that time, representatives of a group of individuals who live in these state institutions and wish to remain there have appealed the Court's order approving the settlement agreement to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. (Benjamin et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, et al., Nos. 11-3684, 11-3685 (3d Cir.)). They argue that the relief given to the class members will hurt their ability to stay in the institutions. They also argue that the settlement agreement should not have been approved because it assumes that institutionalized individuals who are unable to express a preference regarding their placements can be moved to community-based services if appropriate. The class members and Pennsylvania defendants together filed a brief opposing those arguments on April 3, 2012. Shortly thereafter, the United States filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the settlement agreement. We argued that the settlement agreement is fair and reasonable. We also explained that because federal law strongly favors the integration of individuals with disabilities into the community over segregation in large institutions, an institutionalized person who can live in the community but cannot express a preference regarding placement and has no guardian or involved family member, should be provided with community-based services.

In December 2012, the Third Circuit ruled that the group of individuals who wish to remain in the state's congregate care institutions has an interest in the settlement agreement and that those individuals were not adequately represented by any other party in the lawsuit. The Third Circuit therefore reversed the district court's order approving the settlement and sent the case back to the district court. The Third Circuit ruled that this time, the group of individuals must be permitted to participate in the remaining stages of the lawsuit. The case is now back before the district court.

Statement of Support for Settlement (2011)   

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Clover Bottom, Greene Valley, and Nat T. Winston Developmental Centers

The United States brought suit against the State of Tennessee in 1996, concerning conditions of care and the right to care in integrated settings for residents of Clover Bottom Developmental Center, Greene Valley Developmental Center, and Nat. T. Winston Center. The State and the United States, along with two intervenors, settled the case in 1996 through the entry of a settlement agreement that called for both improved conditions within the centers and the integration of residents into community settings. (See Settlement Agreement.) Shortly after the initiation of the suit, the State closed Nat T. Winston Center. The State closed Clover Bottom Developmental Center in November 2015. The State is now in the process of closing Greene Valley Developmental Center. In 2015, the Court approved an Exit Plan designed to resolve this litigation by bringing to fruition planned improvements in respite care, individual support planning, and other areas. The Exit Plan also provides for oversight of individuals' transition to community living during the closure of Greene Valley Developmental Center.

Memorandum Approving Exit Plan (2015)

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Connecticut Valley Hospital

In January 2009, the United States and the State of Connecticut filed a Settlement Agreement in federal court to resolve the United States' CRIPA investigation into the care and treatment of residents at the Connecticut Valley Hospital ("CVH"). CVH is the State's principal forensic, general psychiatric, and addictions in-patient treatment facility, serving approximately 500 individuals. On September 10, 2013, the Parties agreed that the State had achieved substantial compliance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement involving treatment planning; mental health assessments; psychiatric and psychological services; documentation; seclusion and restraint; suicide prevention; and protection from harm. The State remained in partial compliance with the provisions requiring the State to ensure that each resident is served in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs and to pursue adequate community placement for those residents who no longer require hospital care. Consequently, the Parties dismissed all provisions of the Settlement Agreement found in substantial compliance and agreed to extend the provisions of the Settlement Agreement governing Discharge Planning and Community Integration until September 10, 2015, with a 60-day negotiation period if an independent Monitor finds non-compliance at that time. The current Monitor will continue to assess compliance with those provisions of the Settlement Agreement and issue a progress report every six months.

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Delaware Mental Health System

On October 11, 2016, the United States District Court for the District of Delaware agreed with the joint motion of the State and the Department of Justice that Delaware had fully complied with the terms of a remedial agreement that mandated improvements to the State’s system for people with mental illness. The Department of Justice determined that Delaware had complied with the terms of the agreement based on the independent court monitor’s Tenth Report which found the State in substantial compliance with all provisions of the agreement. In 2011, the court approved the settlement agreement and entered it as a court order.

The goals of the Agreement were to ensure that people who are unnecessarily institutionalized can receive the treatment they need in the community; to ensure that individuals in health crisis have sufficient community resources available to avoid unnecessarily being hospitalized or arrested or jailed; and to ensure that people with mental illness in the community are not forced to enter institutions because of the lack of stable housing and intensive treatment options.

Over the course of five years, Delaware put in place sufficient and appropriate community-based mental health services to assist individuals with mental illness to live successfully in the community. The State also demonstrated the ability to use data to drive-decision making. As a result, individuals with mental illness in Delaware are now able to live in their homes and avoid unnecessary segregation.

First Court Monitor Report (2012)   |   Second Court Monitor Report (2012)   |   Third Court Monitor Report (2013)   |   Fourth Court Monitor Report (2013)   |   Fifth Court Monitor Report (2014)   |   Sixth Court Monitor Report (2014)   |   Seventh Court Monitor Report (2015)   |   Eighth Court Monitor Report (2015)   |   Ninth Court Monitor Report (2016)   |   Tenth Court Monitor Report (2016)   |   Brief in Support of Joint Motion to Dismiss (2016)   |   Settlement Agreement Dismissal Fact Sheet (2016)

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Evans v. Bowser

On January 10, 2017, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted the joint motion of the United States, Plaintiffs and the District of Columbia to dismiss all Court Orders in Evans v. Bowser, Civ. Action No. 26-293. The motion was based on the District’s substantial compliance with the terms of a remedial order, the 2010 Revision to the 2001 Plan for Compliance and Conclusion of Evans v. Fenty. This concluded a case first filed by private plaintiffs in 1977 concerning the care and treatment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the District of Columbia. The United States joined that litigation by intervention in 1978. Over the years, the Court entered additional Consent Orders requiring the District of Columbia to place class members into integrated community homes and programs. The District continued in contempt of these orders for many years. The 2010 Revision to the 2001 Plan for Compliance consolidated all outstanding court orders and hired an Independent Compliance Officer to monitor progress. On the same day that it entered its order finally dismissing the case, the Court held a public hearing that praised the efforts of many involved, and included testimony from several class members.

Order Appointing Independent Court Monitor (2000)   |   Quality Trust Order (2001)    |   Special Master's Report and Recommendation (2014)

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Georgia State Hospitals and Georgia Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Systems

The United States brought two separate cases against the State of Georgia involving its public services for people with mental health or development disabilities. Each lawsuit was resolved through separate landmark settlement agreements. Currently, the 2010 case remains pending. In the 2010 settlement agreement, the State agreed to expand its community services system, including crisis services, case management, housing supports, and other services supporting full integration in daily life for thousands of people with mental illness or developmental disabilities receiving State services. The Court appointed an Independent Reviewer to assess the State's progress under the agreement.

The Independent Reviewer issues annual Compliance Reports: Year One Report (2011), Year Two Report (2012), Year Three Report (2013), Supplemental Report (March 2014), Year Four Report (2014), and Year Five Report (2015).

The 2009 settlement agreement resolved the United States' claims that persons with mental illness or developmental disabilities were harmed by unnecessary confinement in State Hospitals. That agreement resolved claims that the State failed to prevent harm to patients in the State Hospitals, and failed to prepare them for successful discharge to the most integrated settings. The State complied with the requirements of the 2009 settlement, and the Court dismissed that case in early 2014.

On May 27, 2016, the Court entered an order adopting the parties' negotiated Extension Agreement, extending and supplementing the court-ordered relief under the 2010 Settlement Agreement in this case. The Extension Agreement resolves the Unites States' Motion to Show Cause, alleging that the State had not provided sufficient community-based services to people with developmental disabilities or serious mental illness who were targeted to receive those services under the 2010 Agreement.  On June 22, 2016, the Independent Reviewer filed with the Court a supplemental report, identifying both progress and ongoing challenges in implementing the Settlement Agreement.  The parties and community stakeholders are working collaboratively to ensure the success of the Extension Agreement, so that people in the target populations can receive necessary services in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs, as required by the ADA.  

Motion for Immediate Relief and Memo in Support (2010, CRIPA)   |   Order Entering Settlement (2010, ADA)   |   Notice to Terminate 2009 Settlement Agreement (2014, CRIPA)   |   First Independent Reviewer Report (2011)   |   DOJ Letter Regarding Year One Compliance (2011)   |   Order Modifying ADA Settlement (2012)   |   Second Independent Reviewer Report (2012)   |   DOJ Letter Regarding Year Two Compliance (2012)   |   Order Modifying ADA Settlement (2013)   |   Third Independent Reviewer Report (2013)   |   DOJ Letter Regarding Year Three Compliance (2013)   |   Fourth Independent Reviewer Report (2014)   |   Fifth Independent Reviewer Report (2015)   |   Motion to Show Cause (2016)   |   Year Five Supplemental Report (2016)   |   Joint Motion to Enter Extension of Settlement Agreement (2016)   |   Consent Order Entering Extension of Settlement Agreement (2016)   |   Sixth Independent Reviewer Report (2017)   |   Seventh Independent Reviewer Report (2017)   |   Eighth Independent Reviewer Report (2018)   |   Ninth Independent Reviewer Report (2018)   |   Supplemental Report of the Independent Reviewer (2018)   |   Tenth Independent Reviewer Report (2019) 

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Kings County Hospital Center

In January 2010, a federal court entered as its order the Consent Judgment we negotiated with New York City to resolve claims of unlawful conditions in the psychiatric emergency room and psychiatric in-patient units at the Kings County Hospital Center (KCHC) in Brooklyn, N.Y. Under the terms of the Consent Judgment, New York City worked to ensure that patients at KCHC are safe and receive the care and services necessary to meet their individualized needs. The agreement underscores the city's obligation to actively pursue the discharge of patients to the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs and to provide follow-up services. The city also agreed to take actions such as improving medical and mental health care, and ensuring that patients are free from undue restraint. A team of expert consultants visited periodically to assess the City’s compliance and offer technical assistance.  On November 20, 2017, the Court dismissed the Consent Judgment on the parties’ joint motion, because the City had satisfied its terms.    

First Immediacy Letter (2008)   |   Second Immediacy Letter (2008)   |   Third Immediacy Letter (2008) 

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Louisiana Use of Nursing Facilities for People with Mental Health Disabilities

In December 2016, the United States notified Louisiana that it had concluded that the State violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by unnecessarily institutionalizing people with mental illness in nursing facilities.  In June 2018, we entered an Agreement to resolve the Department’s investigation.  The agreement focuses on diverting Louisianans from inappropriate placement, planning for successful transitions from nursing facility stays, and developing capacity in proven community-based services. The agreed-upon Subject Matter Expert issues regular reports on the State’s compliance including recommendations, if any, to facilitate or sustain compliance. The most recent report was published in March 2020. 

Joint Motion to Dismiss (2018)  |   First Subject Matter Expert Report (2019)   |   Second Subject Matter Report (2020)  

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Mississippi Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Systems

The United States issued a findings letter in December 2011 concluding that Mississippi is violating the ADA's integration mandate in its provision of services to people with developmental disabilities and mental illness. Following an investigation, the Department found that the State of Mississippi has failed to meet its obligations under the ADA by unnecessarily institutionalizing persons with mental illness or developmental disabilities and failing to ensure that they are offered a meaningful opportunity to live in integrated community settings appropriate to their needs. The Department recommended that the State implement remedial measures, including the development of community-based services for people with developmental disabilities or mental illness who are unnecessarily institutionalized, or at risk of unnecessary institutionalization.

On August 11, 2016, the United States filed a lawsuit against the State of Mississippi, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons (“CRIPA”) alleging it violates Title II of the ADA and Olmstead by unnecessarily segregating people with mental illness in its state hospitals and placing people with mental illness at serious risk of hospitalization as a result of insufficient community-based services. The complaint alleges that the state’s failure to provide services in community settings forces adults with mental illness to access services in segregated state hospitals, including the Mississippi State Hospital, East Mississippi State Hospital, North Mississippi State Hospital, and South Mississippi State Hospital.

A trial on these allegations was held in June and July, 2019.  On September 3, 2019, the court ruled that the State of Mississippi is violating Title II and Olmstead by failing to provide adequate community-based services to Mississippians with serious mental illness.  The court found that the Mississippi mental health system “excludes adults with [serious mental illness] from full integration into the communities in which they live and work, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”  The court’s decision is available here

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New Hampshire Mental Health System

On December 19, 2013, the Department, along with a coalition of private plaintiff organizations, entered into a comprehensive Settlement Agreement with the State of New Hampshire that will significantly expand and enhance mental health service capacity in integrated community settings over the next six years. The Agreement is a full consent decree entered by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire as a Court order on February 12, 2014. The Agreement also provides for regular compliance reviews and public reporting by an independent monitor.

The Agreement will enable a class of thousands of adults with serious mental illness to receive expanded and enhanced services in the community, which will foster their independence and enable them to participate more fully in community life. It will significantly reduce visits to hospital emergency rooms and will avoid unnecessary institutionalization at State mental health facilities, including New Hampshire Hospital (the State's only psychiatric hospital) and the Glencliff Home (a State-owned and –operated nursing facility for people with mental illness).

The Agreement requires the State, for the first time, to create mobile crisis teams in the most populated areas of the State and to create crisis apartments to help support team efforts at avoiding hospitalization or institutionalization. The Agreement also requires the State to make enhanced Assertive Community Treatment ("ACT") team services available statewide, such that the mental health system can provide ACT to at least 1,500 people at any given time. The Agreement requires the State to provide scattered-site, permanent, supported housing to hundreds of additional people throughout the state; the State will also create special residential community settings to address the needs of persons with complex health care issues who have had difficulty accessing sufficient community services in the past. The State will also deliver additional and enhanced supported employment services, consistent with the Dartmouth evidence-based model, to hundreds of new recipients throughout the state.

The Settlement Agreement resolves litigation that had been contested for well over a year. Private Plaintiffs filed the initial complaint in February 2012, and on April 4, 2012, the Court granted the Department's motion to intervene. On April 7, 2011, the United States had issued a Findings Letter concluding that the State of New Hampshire was failing to provide services to individuals with mental illness in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs in violation of the ADA, which led to the needless and prolonged institutionalization of individuals with disabilities and placed individuals with disabilities at risk of unnecessary institutionalization. On September 17, 2013, after months of discovery and a hearing with oral argument, the Court certified a class of Plaintiffs consistent with parameters supported by Plaintiffs and the United States. Shortly thereafter, settlement talks resumed which produced the instant Agreement.

Motion to Intervene, Memo in Support, and Proposed Order (2012)   |   Memo in Support of Class Certification (2013)   |   Order Regarding Class Certification (2013)   |   Settlement Agreement Fact Sheet (2013)   |   Order Approving Settlement Agreement (2014)   |   First Report of the Expert Reviewer (2014)   |   Second Report of the Expert Reviewer (2015)   |   Third Report of the Expert Reviewer (2016)   |   Fourth Report of the Expert Reviewer (2016)   |   Fifth Report of the Expert Reviewer (2017)   |   Sixth Report of the Expert Reviewer (2017)   |   Seventh Report of the Expert Reviewer (2017)   |   Eighth Report of the Expert Reviewer (2018)   |   Ninth Report of the Expert Reviewer (2019)   |   Tenth Report of the Expert Reviewer (2019)   |   Eleventh Report of the Expert Reviewer (2020)

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Oregon State Hospital and Mental Health System

In November 2012, the United States and the State of Oregon entered into an agreed process in order to resolve a 2010 investigation into Oregon's mental health system pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The United States had previously investigated the Oregon State Hospital under CRIPA and issued a findings letter in January 2008 that concluded that conditions at the Oregon State Hospital violated individuals' rights. In 2012 the parties agreed that the state would work to develop an adequate array of community mental health services in order to help individuals with serious and persistent mental illness live successfully in the community and prevent their unnecessary institutionalization. Under the agreed process, the state is required to provide the United States with data about mental health services and the people served in order to assess what gaps exist in the community mental health system. The parties will then develop outcome measures that the state must meet in order to resolve the investigation.

In January 2014, the United States issued an Interim Report, in which it noted a number of concerning trends, including: the state's failure to provide individuals with services in the community instead of in restrictive inpatient settings; limited improvements in outcomes for individuals; and a lack of high intensity quality community services. The state has since provided updated data to the United States, and the parties will soon begin negotiating outcome measures.

Interim Report (2014)   |   Cover Letter to Interim Report (2014)   |   Status Letter (2015)   |   Fifth Independent Report (2019)

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Puerto Rico Facilities for People With Intellectual Disabilities

This ADA case involves all persons with developmental disabilities (“DD”) served in the Commonwealth’s system. Over the years, through a series of consent decrees, along with regular court oversight and involvement, the Division has been able to prompt the Commonwealth to close all six of its residential institutions and to create, from nothing, a community service system to meet the needs of hundreds of persons with DD in integrated community settings. In 2011, the Court entered as a Court order, a Joint Compliance Action plan that summarized prior Court orders and imposed additional requirements on the Commonwealth. On October 31, 2016, the Court issued an order that clarified that the group covered by existing orders in this case included all persons with DD in the system and was not limited to just those who at one time resided in a Commonwealth institution. In recent years, the Court has issued a series of orders to protect the budget of the Commonwealth’s DD program from drastic and arbitrary cuts during the decade-long fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico. These orders have prevented service interruption and termination for hundreds of vulnerable people in need of individualized DD services. The Division continues to work with the Commonwealth to improve its delivery of health care and behavioral services for people with complex conditions, as well as to increase the number of people working in integrated community settings.

Community-Based Service Plan (2001)   |   Transition Order (2008)   |   Compliance Order (2009)   |   Order Adopting Compliance Plan (2011)   |   Supplemental Transition Order (2012)   |   Successor Order (2012)   |   Second Supplemental Transition Order (2016)   |   Remedial Order Regarding Provider Payments (2016)

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Sciarrillo v. Christie

On September 13, 2013, the United States filed a Statement of Interest in Sciarrillo v. Christie, a case in which private plaintiffs oppose the state's deinstitutionalization plan for its facilities housing people with developmental disabilities. The Statement of Interest expresses the United States' view that plaintiffs failed to assert a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In December 2013, the District Court of New Jersey dismissed the plaintiffs’ suit, rejecting this “obverse Olmstead” argument.

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Sonnenberg v. Disability Rights Idaho, Inc. 

On March 7, 2016, the United States District Court for the District of Idaho issued a declaratory judgment in Sonnenberg v. Disability Rights Idaho, Inc, granting to a protection and advocacy organization (“P&A”) access to a coroner’s records under the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act of 1986, 42 U.S.C. § 10801 et seq. (“PAIMI”). The dispute arose when a county coroner refused to provide its investigatory records to the P&A, arguing that a P&A’s right of access to records under PAIMI does not extend to a coroner’s records of its death investigation. The coroner had also cited privacy concerns and questioned the P&A’s probable cause to investigate the death. The court held that the coroner was an “agency charged with investigating” reports of incidents of abuse, neglect, and injury under PAIMI. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the P&A, held that the coroner had violate PAIMI by withholding its investigatory records, and permanently enjoined the coroner from withholding the records from the P&A.

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Steward v. Perry

On September 20, 2012, the Court granted the United States' request to intervene in a pending lawsuit against the State of Texas. The suit claims that Texas unnecessarily segregates individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in nursing facilities, and that this violates the law under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  Plaintiffs also brought claims under the Nursing Home Reform Amendments to the Medicaid Act (NHRA) and the Pre-Admission Screening and Resident Review regulations (PASRR).

In August 2013, the Parties entered a two-year Interim Settlement that required the State to begin expanding community alternatives to nursing facilities. During this time, the Parties negotiated extensively to reach a comprehensive settlement of all remaining issues. Litigation resumed in October 2015, after settlement negotiations failed and the Interim Agreement expired.

In May 2016, the Court denied the State’s motions to dismiss the lawsuit and granted the private Plaintiffs’ renewed motion for class certification. Plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction on their NHRA and PASRR claims in April 2017, and the Court held a three-day hearing on the motion in June 2017, but did not rule on the motion.  In September 2018, the Court denied the State’s motion for summary judgment in which the State sought dismissal of the United States’ claims. 

In October and November 2018, the Court held a five-week trial on the merits.  The parties filed post-trial briefs in January and February 2019.

Statement of Interest (2011)   |   Motion to Intervene and Memo in Support (2011)   |   Supplemental Statement of Interest (2011)   |   Third Statement of Interest (2012)   |   Order Granting Intervention (2012)   |   Interim Settlement Agreement (2013)   |   Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (2015)   |   Order denying Motions to Dismiss (2016)   |   Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment (2018)   |   Order denying Texas' Motion for Summary Judgment (2018)   |   Plaintiffs' Joint Post-Trial Proposed Conclusions of Law (2019)   |    Plaintiffs' Post-Trial Joint Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (2019)   |   Plaintiffs' Joint Response to Texas' Amended Findings of Fact (2019)

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Texas State Supported Living Centers

In 2006 and 2008, we issued findings letters regarding Texas' 13 State-Supported Living Centers ("SSLCs") for individuals with disabilities. Our investigation found that the State had failed to provide facility residents with adequate discharge planning and placement in the most integrated setting, protection from harm, behavioral and mental health services, health care, and integrated supports and services, in violation of the Constitution, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Title XIX of the Social Security Act. In June 2009, we entered into a court-ordered settlement agreement with the State to remedy the deficiencies we identified. Teams of independent monitors monitor the State's compliance with the agreement. At the time of our investigations, the facilities housed approximately 5,000 residents; today, the population is fewer than 3,400 residents

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Thomas v. Kent

Plaintiffs in Thomas et al. v. Kent et al., 2:CV14-08013-FMO-AGR (C.D. Cal.) are individuals with significant physical disabilities requiring substantial care. They allege that California imposes unnecessarily low limits on the cost of services authorized under one of its Medicaid waiver programs, and does not have appropriate systems in place to permit exceptions to those limits when necessary to avoid unnecessary institutionalization. In a series of Statements of Interest, the United States has clarified: States’ obligations to ensure that any limitations on services are implemented in a manner which avoids placing individuals with disabilities at risk of unnecessary institutionalization; that the integration mandate applies to individuals at serious risk of institutionalization; and the narrow application of the fundamental alteration defense.

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Virginia System for Serving People with Developmental Disabilities

On January 26, 2012, we reached a settlement resolving our investigation into whether persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Virginia are being served in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs. We filed the action in the federal district court in Richmond, Virginia and asked the Court to make our settlement an order enforceable by the Court.

The Agreement has two primary goals. One is to prevent the unnecessary institutionalization of individuals with developmental disabilities who are living in the community, including thousands of individuals on waitlists for community-based services. The other goal is to ensure that people who are currently in institutions - at the Commonwealth's training centers or in other private but state-funded facilities - have a meaningful opportunity to receive services that meet their needs in the community.

The Commonwealth will increase opportunities for these individuals to receive quality services in the community by creating approximately 4,200 home and community-based waivers. Waivers allow the States to pay for community services for people who are eligible to receive those Medicaid-funded services in an institution. The 4,200 waivers will be created over a ten-year period. Almost 3,000 of these waivers will be targeted to individuals with intellectual disabilities on the waitlist or youth with intellectual disabilities in private facilities; another 450 waivers will be targeted to individuals with non-intellectual developmental disabilities on the waitlist or youth in private facilities; and another 800 waivers will be targeted to individuals choosing to leave the training centers. An additional 1,000 individuals on waitlists for community services will receive family supports to help provide care in their family home or their own home.

The Commonwealth will also create a comprehensive community crisis system, including a hotline, mobile crisis teams, and crisis stabilization programs, to divert people from unnecessary institutionalization or other out-of-home placements. The Commonwealth will implement an "Employment First" policy to create work opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. The Agreement also creates an $800,000 fund for housing assistance to help people with developmental disabilities live independently. Finally, the Agreement requires a strong quality and risk management system to ensure that community-based services are safe and effective. An independent reviewer will assess whether the Commonwealth has met the goals of the Agreement.

The Commonwealth has been working to improve its systems in order to meet the terms of the Agreement.  On March 12, 2019, the Court ordered the Parties to develop indicators that would state “in precise measurable terms what the Commonwealth must do to comply with each remaining provision of the decree.”  The Court held hearings in April 2019 and January 2020 about the proposed compliance indicators.  On January 14, 2020, the Parties filed agreed-upon compliance indicators for all of the provisions of the Agreement where the Commonwealth is not yet in compliance.

Settlement Fact Sheet (2012)   |   First Independent Reviewer Report (2012)   |   Second Independent Reviewer Report (2013)   |   Third Independent Reviewer Report (2013)   |   Fourth Independent Reviewer Report (2014)   |   Fifth Independent Reviewer Report (2014)   |   Sixth Independent Reviewer Report (2015)   |   Seventh Independent Reviewer Report (2015)   |   Eighth Independent Reviewer Report (2016)  

Documents related to U.S. v. Virginia can be found here.

 

LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES

Albuquerque Police Department 

Joint Statement of Principles (2014)   |   Letter of Commitment on Settlement (2014)   |   Settlement Agreement Fact Sheet (2014)   |   Request for Information (2014)   |   Order on Amicus Participation (2014)   |   Order Appointing Independent Monitor (2015)   |   Opinion and Order Entering Settlement (2015)   

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Baltimore Police Department

In May of 2015, the Department of Justice opened an investigation into the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968; Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. On August 10, 2016, we released the results of our investigation. 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. We had serious concerns that gender bias may be compromising the effectiveness of BPD’s sexual assault investigations and that BPD’s transportation practices may continue to be deficient despite reforms. We found systemic deficiencies contributed to the violations we observed, including insufficient policies, inadequate training, failures to collect and analyze data, a lack of oversight, and a failure to hold its officers accountable for misconduct. DOJ found that these ongoing violations further a deep divide between BPD and many of the communities it has sworn to serve and protect, and impede legitimate law enforcement activities.

On January 12, 2017, we filed a complaint and court-enforceable consent decree, overseen by independent monitoring, in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland to ensure sustainable, constitutional, and effective policing. This consent decree, which was negotiated with the City of Baltimore, requires the Baltimore Police Department (“BPD”) to remedy the Justice Department’s finding that BPD engages in a pattern or practice of misconduct that violates the Constitution and federal law. The documents here provide more information about the investigation, our findings, the court-enforceable consent decree, and next steps.

Findings Summary (2016)   |   Findings Summary (Spanish, 2016)   |   Findings Report Cover Letter to Mayor Rawlings-Blake (2016)   |   Joint Motion for Entry of Consent Decree (2017)   |   Memorandum in Support of Joint Motion for Entry of Consent Decree (2017)   |   Memorandum and Order Appointing Independent Monitor   |   Consent Decree Fact Sheet (2017)   |   Order Setting Public Comment Period and Public Fairness Hearing (2017)   |   Order Entering Consent Decree (2017)   |   Request for Applications to Serve as Court Monitor (2017)   |   Applications to Serve as Court Monitor (2017)   |   Public Comments on Monitor Applicants (2017)   |   Monitor Finalist Applicants (2017)   |   Combined Community Questions for Monitor Finalists (2017)     

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Chicago Police Department

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Cleveland Division of Police

In March of 2013, following a series of highly-publicized use-of-force incidents that suggested critical flaws exist in use-of-force policies, procedures, and practices within the Cleveland Division of Police ("CDP"), in Cleveland, Ohio, we opened an investigation pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 that focused on CDP's use of force, including deadly force. The investigation, which concluded in December 2014, revealed that CDP engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. We also determined that structural deficiencies and practices, including insufficient accountability, inadequate training and equipment, ineffective policies, and inadequate engagement with the community, contribute to CDP's use of excessive force. To address these findings, in May 2015, the Justice Department and the City of Cleveland entered into a court-enforceable agreement, overseen by an independent monitoring team, that requires CDP to implement widespread reforms that focus on building community trust; creating a culture of community and problem-oriented policing; improving officer safety, training, and accountability; and implementing technological upgrades.

Executive Summary of Findings Letter (2014, English)   |   Executive Summary of Findings Letter (2014, Spanish)   |   Statement of Principles (2014)   |   Request for Information (2015)   |   Joint Motion for Entry of Consent Decree (2015)   |   Orders Approving Consent Decree (2015)   |   First Semiannual Monitoring Report (2016)   |   Biennial Community Survey Report (2016)   |   Second Monitoring Report (2017)   |   Third Monitoring Report (2017)   |   Fourth Monitoring Report (2018)   |   Fifth Monitoring Report (2018)   |   Sixth Monitoring Report (2019)   |   Seventh Monitoring Report (2019) 

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East Haven Police Department

The Special Litigation Section opened an investigation of the East Haven Police Department (EHPD) on September 30, 2009 pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. As the investigation progressed, we expanded the investigation to include Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We announced the results of our investigation on December 19, 2011. We found that EHPD engages in a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing against Latinos in violation of the Constitution and federal law. In particular, we found that EHPD targeted Latinos for discriminatory traffic enforcement, treated Latinos more harshly than non-Latinos after traffic stops, and intentionally failed to design and implement internal systems that would identify and prevent the discriminatory conduct. On November 20, 2012, we entered an agreement resolving our investigation and asked the Court to make our settlement an order enforceable by the Court. The agreement, which was negotiated with the Town of East Haven and the EHPD, provides a comprehensive framework to remedy the issues we found. Since that time, a Joint Compliance Expert ("JCE") has monitored EHPD's compliance with the agreement, providing periodic reports to the Court. The documents here provide more information about the investigation, our findings, the agreement, and EHPD's compliance efforts.

Joint Compliance Expert's 6-Month Compliance Report (2013)   |   Joint Compliance Expert's 12-Month Compliance Report (2014)   |   Joint Compliance Expert's 18-Month Compliance Report (2014)   |   Joint Compliance Expert's 30-Month Compliance Report (2015)

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Ferguson Police Department

In September 2014, the Department of Justice opened an investigation of the Ferguson Police Department (FPD) pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The investigation focused on allegations that Ferguson law enforcement engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution and federal statutory law. On March 4, 2015, DOJ announced the results of the investigation, 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. As a result, Ferguson's law enforcement practices discriminate against African Americans and decrease trust between the Ferguson community and law enforcement, hampering FPD's ability to ensure public safety. On March 17, 2016, the parties jointly filed a proposed consent decree in federal court to address the conduct that DOJ’s investigation found. On April 19, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri approved and entered the parties’ jointly-filed consent decree. The documents here provide more information about the investigation, DOJ’s findings, and the consent decree.

Letter Regarding Name Plates (2014)   |   Letter Regarding Bracelets (2014)   |   Findings Summary (2015)   |   Findings Summary (Spanish, 2015)   |   Findings Cover Letter to City Manager Shaw and Chief Jackson (2015)   |   Joint Motion for Entry of Consent Decree (2016)   |   Joint Memo in Support of Motion for Entry of Consent Decree (2016)   |   Order Setting Fairness Hearing for April 19, 2016 (2016)   |   Request for Applications to Serve as Monitor (2016)   |   Applications to Serve as Monitor (2016)   |   Joint Motion For Approval of Consent Decree Monitor Selection   |   Memo in Support of Joint Motion For Approval of Consent Decree Monitor Selection   |   Order Approving Monitor (2016)   |   Transcript of Fairness Hearing (4/19/2016)   |   Excerpt of Ruling from Fairness Hearing (4/19/2016)   |   City of Ferguson's Initial Status Report (2016)   |   Monitor Initial Work Plan (2016)   |   Status Conference Transcript (12/6/2016)   |   Status Conference Transcript (3/22/2017)   |   Order Setting Status Hearings (2017)   |   Status Conference Transcript (9/19/2017)   |   Independent Monitor Spring 2018 Semiannual Report   |   Appendix to Spring 2018 Report   |   Transcript of Status Conference (2018) 

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Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Stations in Antelope Valley

Statement of Intent (2013)   |    Order Approving Settlement Agreement (2015)

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Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

In March 2009, we opened an investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) pursuant to Section 14141 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI). MCSO refused to cooperate with our investigation, and we filed suit under Title VI to obtain the information we needed, which MCSO agreed to provide in June 2011, settling this suit. After completing our investigation, on December 15, 2011, we announced our findings. We found that MCSO engaged in a pattern of misconduct that violated the Constitution and federal law. Specifically, we found that MCSO engaged in a policy of stopping, detaining, and investigating persons of Hispanic ancestry based on their race, in traffic and during worksite raids; failed to provide language access assistance to Hispanic jail inmates with Limited English Proficiency (LEP); and unlawfully retaliated against individuals who complained about or criticized MCSO’s practices.

We attempted to work with MCSO to reach an agreement to remedy the unlawful conduct we found, but we could not resolve our claims without litigation. We filed suit against Sheriff Arpaio and Maricopa County on the above grounds in May 2012. The Court granted summary judgment in our favor on the discriminatory policing claim in June 2015. We reached a partial settlement with Sheriff Arpaio and Maricopa County in July 2015, resolving the remaining claims concerning conduct in worksite raids, retaliation, and language access requirements for Hispanic LEP inmates in MCSO jails.

In May 2013, in a parallel law suit, Melendres v. Arpaio, the federal district court of Arizona found that MCSO had engaged in unlawful discrimination against Hispanic persons in its traffic enforcement operations. In October 2013, the court issued an injunction, ordering MCSO to undergo reforms to prevent further discriminatory law enforcement practices, and appointed an independent monitor to oversee implementation of the injunction. In August 2015, we requested, and were granted intervention in Melendres, to join the case as a Plaintiff-Intervenor. We are now working with Plaintiffs and the independent monitor to ensure that MCSO meaningfully implements the court-ordered reforms required by the injunctive order.

Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (2013)   |   Statement of Interest (2013)   |   Supplemental Permanent Injunction (2013)   |   Order to Show Cause Regarding Contempt (2015)   |   Order Granting United States Intervention (2015)   |   Findings of Fact Regarding Contempt (2016)   |   First Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2014)   |   Second Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2014)   |   Third Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2015)   |   Fourth Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2015)   |   Fifth Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2015)   |   Eighth Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2016)   |   Ninth Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2016)   |   Tenth Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2017)   |   Eleventh Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2017)   |   Twelfth Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2017)   |   Thirteenth Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2017)   |   Fourteenth Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2017)   |   Fifteenth Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2018)   |  Sixteenth Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2018)   |   Seventeenth Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2018)  |  Eighteenth Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2019)   |   Nineteenth Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2019)   |   Twentieth Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2019)   |   Twenty-First Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor (2019)

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City of Miami Police Department

On November 17, 2011, the Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida opened an investigation of the Miami Police Department (MPD) under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.  Our investigation focused on excessive use of deadly force by firearms.  On July 9, 2013, we notified MPD that our investigation showed that MPD had engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force that violated the Constitution and federal law.  On March 10, 2016, the United States and the City of Miami and MPD entered into a Settlement Agreement with the goal of ensuring that police services are provided to all members of the City of Miami in a manner that complies with the Constitution and laws of the United States. 

The United States and the City of Miami jointly selected an Independent Reviewer responsible for assessing the implementation of the Settlement Agreement and providing periodic reports assessing MPD’s compliance with the Agreement.  In August 2019, the United States and the City of Miami and MPD agreed that the Department of Justice would take over the role of monitoring the implementation of the Settlement Agreement and issuing periodic reports during the sustained-compliance period.  The documents here provide more information about the investigation, the Settlement Agreement, and MPD’s implementation efforts.

Ninth Enforcement Report

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Missoula County Attorney's Office

In May 2012, the Department of Justice launched an investigation into allegations that the Missoula County Attorney's Office was failing to adequately respond to and investigate reports of sexual assault, and thus engaging in sex discrimination in violation of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, and the anti-discrimination provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. The DOJ investigation of the Missoula County Attorney's Office was part of a broader civil pattern or practice investigation into allegations that Missoula law enforcement, including the Missoula Police Department and the University of Montana's Office of Public Safety, was systematically failing to protect adult women victims of sexual assault. On June 10, 2014, DOJ entered into a settlement agreement with the Missoula County Attorney's Office, the Montana Attorney General, and Missoula County, aimed at ensuring impartial and effective investigation and prosecution of reports of sexual assault by the Missoula County Attorney's Office. Under the agreement, the Missoula County Attorney's Office will develop and implement sexual assault policies and training for prosecutors; improve treatment of individuals who report sexual assault; use prosecution techniques that have been shown to result in better sexual assault investigations; improve communication and coordination with other Missoula stakeholders regarding sexual assault response; and improve the tracking and sharing of data regarding sexual assault prosecutions. The documents here provide more information about the investigation and settlement, including the DOJ investigative findings (released February 14, 2014) and the settlement agreement between DOJ, Missoula County Attorney's Office, the Montana Attorney General, and Missoula County.

Compliance Reports - December 2014March 2015June 2015February 2016

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Missoula Police Department

In May 2012, the Department of Justice launched an investigation into allegations that the Missoula Police Department was failing to adequately respond to and investigate reports of sexual assault, and thus engaging in sex discrimination in violation of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, and the anti-discrimination provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. The DOJ investigation of the Missoula Police Department (Missoula Police) was part of a broader civil pattern or practice investigation into allegations that Missoula law enforcement, including the Missoula County Attorney's Office and the University of Montana's Office of Public Safety, was systematically failing to protect adult women victims of sexual assault. On May 16, 2013, DOJ entered into a comprehensive agreement with the Missoula Police, aimed at ensuring a fair and effective police response to reports of sexual assault. The agreement requires, among other things, that the Missoula Police implement or revise policies, provide training, and change practices to improve its response to sexual assault; work with an Independent Reviewer, community organizations, and other stakeholders, to develop and implement the agreement's reforms; facilitate the development of an External Review Panel to conduct reviews of closed sexual assault cases handled by the Missoula Police and University of Montana's campus police department; and develop procedures for gathering and analyzing data to evaluate and assess its response to sexual assault. The documents here provide more information about the investigation and settlement, including the DOJ investigative findings; the settlement agreement between the DOJ and Missoula Police; and the Independent Reviewer's reports on the Missoula Police Department's implementation of the agreement.

First Report of the Independent Reviewer (2013)   |   Second Report of the Independent Reviewer (2014)   |   Third Report and Year 1 Report of the Independent Reviewer (2014)   |   Fourth Report of the Independent Reviewer (2015)   |   Sustained Compliance Report (2015)

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University of Montana Office of Public Safety

In May 2012, the Department of Justice launched an investigation into allegations that the University of Montana's Office of Public Safety – the university's campus police department - was failing to adequately respond to and investigate reports of sexual assault, and thus engaging in sex discrimination in violation of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, and the anti-discrimination provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. At the same time, DOJ, together with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, launched a separate, concurrent investigation, pursuant to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, into the University of Montana's handling of complaints of sexual assault and harassment. On May 9 2013, DOJ entered into two separate, comprehensive agreements with the University of Montana – one aimed at ensuring that the University's Office of Public Safety responds swiftly and effectively to allegations of sexual assault; and the second focused on improving the University's Title IX response to reports of sexual assault and harassment. The agreement between DOJ and the University's Office of Public Safety requires, among other things, that the Office of Public Safety implement or revise policies, provide training, and change practices to improve its response to sexual assault; work with an Independent Reviewer, community organizations, and other stakeholders to develop and implement the agreement's reforms; facilitate the development of an External Review Panel to conduct reviews of closed sexual assault cases handled by the Missoula Police Department and University of Montana's Office of Public Safety; and develop procedures for gathering and analyzing data to evaluate and assess its response to sexual assault. The documents here provide more information about the investigation and settlement, including the DOJ investigative findings; the settlement agreement between the DOJ and the University of Montana's Office of Public Safety; and the Independent Reviewer's reports on the Office of Public Safety's implementation of the agreement.

First Report of the Independent Reviewer (2013)   |   Second Report of the Independent Reviewer (2014)   |   Third Report and Year 1 Report of the Independent Reviewer (2014)   |   Sustained Compliance Report (2015)

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New Orleans Police Department

On May 15, 2010, we opened an investigation of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Following a comprehensive investigation, on March 17, 2011, we announced our findings. We found that the NOPD has engaged in patterns of misconduct that violate the Constitution and federal law, including a pattern or practice of excessive force, and of illegal stops, searches, and arrests. We found also a pattern or practice of gender discrimination in the Department's under-enforcement and under-investigation of violence against women. We further found strong indications of discriminatory policing based on racial, ethnic, and LGBT bias, as well as a failure to provide critical police services to language minority communities. On July 24, 2012, we reached a settlement resolving our investigation and asked the Court to make our settlement an order enforceable by the Court. The documents here provide more information about the investigation, the Justice Department's findings, settlement, and next steps.


Letter to Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu (2011, English)   |   Letter to Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu (2011, Spanish)   |   Letter to Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu (2011, Vietnamese)   |   Joint Motion for Entry of the Consent Decree (2012)   |   Request for Proposal for Consent Decree Monitor (2012)   |   Order regarding Request for Proposal (2012)   |   Order Entering Consent Decree (2013)   |   Opinion and Order Entering Consent Decree (2013)   |   Entered Consent Decree (2013) and Errata Sheet   |   Order Cancelling May 31, 2013 Meeting and Staying Case   |   Notice of Appeal and Cancellation of May 31, 2013 Meeting   |   Fifth Circuit Order Denying City's Motion for Stay (2013)   |   Memorandum Recommending Sheppard Mullin as Monitor (2013)   |   Order Appointing Sheppard Mullin as Monitor (2013)   |   Third Quarterly Monitoring Report (2014)   

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Newark Police Department

On May 9, 2011, we and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey opened an investigation of the Newark Police Division (formerly the Newark Police Department) (NPD) into allegations that NPD engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful conduct.  The investigation focused on allegations of excessive force, unconstitutional stops, searches, arrests, and seizures, and discriminatory policing.  On July 22, 2014, the United States announced the results of the investigation, finding that NPD had engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional stops, and that NPD’s law enforcement activities had disproportionately affected black people in Newark.  The Department also found a pattern or practice of excessive force, as well as the theft of property by police officers.  On April 5, 2016, the United States and the City of Newark jointly filed a proposed consent decree in federal court.  On May 5, 2016, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey approved and entered the consent decree.  The decree requires NPD to make comprehensive changes to its policies and practices to remedy the unlawful conduct identified during our investigation.   The implementation of the Decree is overseen by an independent monitor who publishes periodic public status reports.

Findings Summary (Spanish, 2014)   |   Findings Summary (Portuguese, 2014)   |   Request for Applications to Serve as Court Monitor (2014)   |   List of Applicants for the Monitorship (2015)   |   Joint Memo in Support of Consent Decree (2016)   |   Consent Decree Fact Sheet (2016)   |   First Monitoring Report (2017)   |   Second Monitoring Report (2017)   |   Third Monitoring Report (2018)   |   Fourth Monitoring Report (2018)   |   Fifth Monitoring Report (2018)   |   Sixth Monitoring Report (2019)   |   Seventh Monitoring Report (2019) |  Eighth Monitoring Report (2019)

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Portland Police Bureau

Statement of Intent (2012)   |   Proposed Settlement Agreement (2012)   |   Memo in Support of Joint Motion to Enter Settlement (2012)   |   Proposed MOA with the Portland Police Association (2013)   |   Ratified Collaborative Agreement with the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform (2013)   |   Compliance Status Assessment Report (2015)   |   Letter Regarding Policy Review (2015)   |   Technical Assistance Letter Regarding Crisis Intervention (2015)   |   Technical Assistance Letter Regarding In-Service Training (2016)   |   Compliance Assessment Status Report (2016)   |   Compliance Assessment Status Report (2017)   |   Compliance Assessment Status Report  (2019) 

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Puerto Rico Police Department

On September 8, 2011, the Civil Rights Division announced the findings of its comprehensive investigation of the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD). PRPD consists of approximately 17,000 sworn police officers and is the second largest local law enforcement agency in the county. The investigation was conducted pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, we found that PRPD officers engage in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, use of unreasonable force against individuals exercising their First Amendment rights, and unconstitutional searches and seizures. We also uncovered other deficiencies of serious concern. These include troubling evidence that PRPD frequently fails to investigate sex-related crimes and incidents of domestic violence, and that PRPD engages in discriminatory policing practices that target individuals of Dominican descent.

On December 21, 2012, we filed a complaint and a settlement agreement in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. The agreement, which we negotiated with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, provides a comprehensive framework to remedy the misconduct we found. The documents here provide more information about the investigation, the Civil Rights Division's findings, and the agreement.

Order Regarding Amicus Briefs (2012)   |   Order Approving Settlement Agreement (2013)   |   Technical Compliance Advisor First Six-Month Report (2015)   |   US Supplement to the First Six-Month Report (2015)   |   Order on US Supplement (2015)   |   Technical Compliance Advisor Second Six-Month Report (2015)   |   Joint Response to Second Six-Month Report (2015)   |   Technical Compliance Advisor Third Six-Month Report (2016)   |   US Response to Third Six-Month Report (2016)   |   Motion Submitting Preliminary Methodology (2018)   |   Preliminary Draft Monitoring Methodology (2018)   |   Order Granting Preliminary Monitoring Methodology (2018)   

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S.R. & L.G. v. Kenton County, et al

In October 2015, the Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest in S.R. & L.G. v. Kenton County, et al. The plaintiffs in the case were two elementary school children who alleged that a school resource officer (SRO) violated their rights under the Fourth and 14th Amendment and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when the SRO handcuffed them in school, behind their backs, above their elbows, and at their biceps, after the children exhibited conduct arising out of their disabilities. After the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint, the Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest. The purpose of the Statement of Interest, which does not take a position on the merits of the case, was to provide the court with a framework to assess the plaintiffs’ claims.

The brief explained the requirements to protect the rights of children, particularly children with disabilities, in their interactions with SROs. It emphasized that school resource officers should not handle routine disciplinary incidents that school officials should properly address. It further described the particularized facts and circumstances the court should consider in evaluating whether the SRO’s conduct in this case was objectively reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Finally, the department confirmed that the ADA applies to SROs’ interactions with children with disabilities and that this statute requires SROs to make reasonable modifications in their procedures when necessary, and requires law enforcement agencies to change policies that discriminate against children with disabilities.

In December 2015, the court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss. In its opinion, the court relied on much of the same reasoning and case law that the Department of Justice articulated in its brief. In October 2017, the court issued an opinion on motions for summary judgment, addressing the constitutional and ADA issues in the case.  In November 2018, the court dismissed the complaint because the parties had reached a settlement. 

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Seattle Police Department

On March 31, 2011, we opened an investigation of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Following a comprehensive investigation, on December 16, 2011, we announced our findings. We found that SPD has engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force that violates the Constitution and federal law. Our investigation further raised serious concerns that some SPD policies and practices, particularly those related to pedestrian encounters, could result in discriminatory policing. We negotiated and filed a consent decree to address these concerns on July 27, 2012, and separately entered into a settlement agreement on related issues on that same date. On September 21, the court modified and entered the consent decree. The documents here provide more information about the investigation, the Justice Department's findings, the consent decree and memorandum of understanding, and next steps.

Technical Assistance Letter on Garrity issues (2011)   |   Order Granting Provisional Approval of the Agreement (2012)   |   Findings of Fact & Conclusions of Law (2012)   |   Memorandum of Understanding (2012)   |   
Joint Motion for Entry of the Agreement (2012)   |   Order Denying Community Police Commission's Motion to Intervene and Granting Amicus Curiae Status (2013)   |   First Year Monitoring Plan (2013), Appendix A: Schedule of Priorities for Settlement Agreement (2013)   |   Monitor's First Semiannual Report (2013)   |   Second Year Monitoring Plan (2014)   |   Monitor's Second Semiannual Report (2013)   |   Monitor's Third Semiannual Report (2014)   |   Memorandum Submitting Consensus Use of Force Policies (2013)   |   Order Approving Consensus Use of Force Policy (2013)   |   Memorandum Submitting Consensus Stops and Bias-Free Policing Policies and Order Approving Policies (2014)   |   Consensus Crisis Intervention Policy and Order Approving Policy (2014)   |   Monitor's Submission of Consensus Performance Mentoring Policy (2014)   |   Order Approving Consensus Performance Mentoring Policy (2014)   |   Memorandum Submitting Office of Professional Accountability Internal Operations and Training Manual, and Policies Order Approving Policies (2014)   |   Order Approving Office of Professional Accountability Internal Operations and Training Manual, and Policies Order Approving Policies (2014)   |   Memorandum Regarding Instructional System Design Model for Comprehensive Use of Force Training (2014)   |   Memorandum Regarding Instructional System Design Model for Search and Seizure and Bias-Free Policing Training (2014)   |   Memorandum Submitting Consensus Basic, Dispatcher, and Strategy Crisis Intervention Training (2014)   |   Memorandum Submitting Consensus Advanced Crisis Intervention Training (2014)   |   Monitor's Fourth Semiannual Report (2014)

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Suffolk County Police Department

On September 1, 2009, SPL and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York opened a joint investigation of the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) into allegations that SCPD engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful conduct.  The investigation focused on allegations that SCPD was engaging in discriminatory policing, that it discouraged Latinos from filing complaints, and that it failed to investigate crimes and hate-crime incidents involving Latinos.  On January 13, 2014, the United States and Suffolk County entered into a Settlement Agreement resolving the investigation.  The Settlement Agreement requires SCPD to make improvements to its policies and practices related to bias-free policing, hate crimes and hate incidents, language assistance, misconduct investigations, community engagement, and general policies and training.  The Settlement Agreement also requires SCPD to report to the DOJ periodically on its reform efforts.  Relatedly, DOJ conducts periodic inspections of SCPD and issues reports on its compliance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement.  The Settlement Agreement will terminate once DOJ has determined that SCPD has implemented all the necessary reforms for a period of one year.   

Compliance Assessment (June 2015)   |   Compliance Assessment (Dec. 2015)   |   Compliance Assessment (Apr. 2016)   |   Compliance Assessment (Jan. 2017)   |   Compliance Assessment (June 2017)   |   Compliance Assessment (March 2018)   |   Compliance Assessment (Oct. 2018)   |   Compliance Assessment (Dec. 2019) 

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Ville Platte Police Department and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office

 

Ville Platte Police Department 2019 Assessment   |   Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office 2019 Assessment

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Warren Police Department

In December 2004, the Civil Rights Division opened an investigation of the City of Warren and the Warren Police Department (WPD) under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, focusing on excessive force and improper strip and body cavity searches.  We issued a technical assistance letter in March 2006.  We continued to monitor WPD’s implementation efforts, ultimately concluding that WPD failed to make meaningful progress in implementing our technical assistance recommendations and that WPD had engaged in a pattern or practice of using excessive force.  In January 2012, we filed a complaint and settlement agreement in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.  Six years later, the police department complied with every provision of the settlement agreement, and the Court executed an Order, terminating the settlement agreement in August 2019.  The documents below provide more information about the investigation, the Civil Rights Division’s findings, and the agreement.

Compliance Letter (2013)   |    Compliance Chart (2013)   |    Compliance Letter (2015)   |    Compliance Chart (2015)   |    Compliance Chart (2018)   

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Yonkers Police Department

In August 2007, we opened an investigation of the Yonkers Police Department (YPD) pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, and the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. On June 9, 2009, we sent the City a technical assistance letter that identified necessary reforms to YPD practices and policies in the areas of use of force, civilian complaints, investigations, supervisory oversight, and training. After receiving the department’s technical assistance letter, the City and YPD made substantial changes to its policies and procedures. On November 14, 2016, we signed an agreement with the City of Yonkers that implements and further improves those policies and procedures and addresses the department’s remaining concerns.

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FACE

RELIGIOUS EXERCISE OF INSTITUTIONALIZED PERSONS

Updated April 1, 2020

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