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WASHINGTON – Following a comprehensive investigation, the Justice Department today announced its findings that the state of Florida’s oversight system failed to detect and sufficiently address harmful practices at both the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and the Jackson Juvenile Offender Center (JJOC), which together constituted the North Florida Youth Development Center (NYFDC). Despite the closure of these facilities, the deficiencies found by the United States implicate the continuing oversight obligations of the state. The state’s lack of adequate controls permitted these violations to persist. It is incumbent upon the state to ensure that the unconstitutional conditions of confinement identified in the report do not exist at its other juvenile justice institutions.
The United States announced its investigation of the NYFDC facilities on April 7, 2010, in accordance with the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. On May 26, 2011, Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announced the pending closure of Dozier and JJOC. The facilities were officially closed on June 30, 2011, and the residents were transferred to juvenile justice institutions throughout the state. The Justice Department found reasonable cause to believe that a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct and/or violations of federal law occurred in several areas, including:
These violations were the result of the state’s failed system of oversight and accountability. To protect the youth in its remaining facilities, the state must take immediate measures to assess the full extent of its failed oversight with the assistance of experts in juvenile protection from harm issues. The state must also strengthen its oversight processes by implementing a more rigorous system of hiring, training and accountability.
The United States thanks and acknowledges the state for its cooperation throughout this investigation.
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 authorizes the Department of Justice to seek a remedy for a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the constitutional or federal statutory rights of youth in juvenile justice institutions.
The full report can be found at www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/documents/dozier_findltr_12-1-11.pdf. For more information on the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, please visit www.justice.gov/crt