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U.S. Justice Department opens probe of Texas juvenile detention facilities

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WASHINGTON, Oct 13 (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into juvenile detention facilities in Texas after receiving studies of bodily and sexual abuse by workers members towards youngsters, U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke mentioned on Wednesday.

“Our investigation will focus on whether there is a pattern or practice of physical or sexual abuse of children in Texas’s secure facilities,” Clarke instructed a news convention.

“We will also investigate whether there is a pattern or practice of harm as a result of the excessive use of chemical restraints, excessive use of isolation, or lack of adequate mental health services,” she mentioned.

This marks the most recent in a sequence of investigations into systematic patterns of abuse that the Justice Department has launched in current months into police departments and jails throughout the nation, together with one probe into Georgia state prisons and others taking a look at police departments in Minneapolis and Louisville.

It is one more authorized escalation for the state of Texas, which can be dealing with two civil lawsuits filed by the Justice Department over the state’s broad abortion ban and its government order proscribing the journey of migrants.

Spokespeople for the Texas Juvenile Justice Department didn’t have a right away touch upon the investigation.

The probe, which can give attention to 5 safe juvenile facilities throughout your complete state, was sparked by “an extensive review of publicly available information” in addition to data offered by stakeholders, Clarke mentioned.

For occasion, she mentioned, at the very least 11 workers members of Texas facilities have been arrested for sexually abusing youngsters of their care.

In addition, she pointed to different examples of misconduct together with studies of workers members allegedly paying youngsters with medication or money to assault different youngsters.

In one incident from final February, she mentioned, workers allegedly “pepper-sprayed a child and placed him in full mechanical restraints…and then body-slammed him onto a bed.”

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Eric Beech;
Editing by Chris Reese and Aurora Ellis

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A folder with the seal of the U.S. Department of Justice sits on a table at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, May 11, 2015.   REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

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