Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against Terrebonne Parish Regarding Unlawful Conditions at Juvenile Detention Center
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans entered the revised settlement agreement reached between the United States and Terrebonne Parish as an order of the court. The agreement resolves the United States’ allegations that the Parish had violated the constitutional rights of youth in the Terrebonne Parish Juvenile Detention Center (TPJDC). The United States filed its complaint against the parish on Oct. 4, 2011.
The United States’ investigation of the TPJDC, located in Houma, La., began in November 2009. The United States’ findings included allegations that TPJDC failed to protect its youth from harm, including physical and sexual misconduct by staff on youth. In addition, the United States identified widespread and systemic abuses and failures that contributed to the harms experienced by youth at TPJDC. The agreement contains comprehensive provisions related to incident reporting; use of isolation and discipline; suicide prevention; staff accountability and supervision; reporting allegations of abuse; training; quality assurance; and improved policies, procedures and practices directly tied to detailed outcome measures.
“We commend the administrators of TPJDC, Parish government officials, and their counsel for cooperating with the United States’ investigation and their commitment to reforming TPJDC to ensure that the constitutional rights of juveniles are protected,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “We appreciate that the highest levels of TPJDC and parish government have already taken great strides to begin the process of reform without waiting for a court order.”
Compliance with the agreement will be overseen by an independent monitor jointly selected by the United States and Terrebonne Parish. After an initial compliance tour within 90 days of the effective date of the agreement, the monitor will conduct compliance tours every six months thereafter. The monitor will issue monitoring reports for the parties and the court. In addition, the parish is required to provide monthly reports and updates to the United States and the monitor regarding statistics, data, trends and corrective actions, if any, regarding the status of each substantive category of reform contained within the settlement agreement.
This civil action was filed by the Civil Rights Division Special Litigation Section Deputy Chief Judy Preston and Senior Trial Attorney Je Yon Jung.
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. Please visit www.justice.gov/crt to learn more about this act and other laws enforced by the department’s Civil Rights Division.