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Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Justice Department Resolves Investigation of King County, Washington Correctional Facility

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today announced a comprehensive agreement with King County, Wash., regarding the conditions of confinement at the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle. The agreement follows the Department’s investigation of the facility, which found substantial civil rights violations.

"I appreciate King County’s cooperation during our investigation and commend the leadership of the King County Executive and the County Council for their commitment to improve conditions at the jail," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "Today’s agreement will ensure that necessary measures are taken so that the County will meet its obligations under the law."

The Department’s investigation identified inadequate medical care and contagious disease prevention and treatment services, inadequate security and detention practices, and inadequate suicide prevention procedures. The agreement requires the implementation of measures to ensure that the identified deficiencies are remedied and that the services and systems to address the inadequate conditions are consistent with constitutional standards.

The Civil Rights Division conducted its investigation pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, which authorizes the federal government to identify and root out systemic abuses. The Civil Rights Division has successfully resolved similar investigations of other adult correctional facilities in numerous other jurisdictions, including Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

The Department of Justice’s enforcement effort reaches beyond adult correctional facilities. Since 2001, the Department of Justice has opened 97 similar investigations into conditions of confinement at correctional facilities, juvenile detention centers, nursing homes, mental health facilities and residences for persons with developmental disabilities throughout the United States.

More information about the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division can be found at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/split/index.html.

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 15, 2014