As any participants in the juvenile delinquency system come upon issues of maltreatment, abuse, or a lack of services for children placed in public facilities, it is important that we speak up. There are several avenues. One avenue is the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which is the agency responsible for enforcing the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA). CRIPA can be used to help eliminate unlawful conditions of confinement for detained and incarcerated juveniles who are held in publicly operated facilities, and according to DOJ documents, it is underused. Since 1997, seventy-three juvenile facilities have been investigated. An overview is available here.
Indiana has been the subject of CRIPA actions in the past, including a 2006 settlement involving two Indiana Department of Correction (DOC), Division of Youth Services (DYS) facilities — Logansport and South Bend — where it was alleged that reforms were needed to protect children from harm and to provide adequate mental health and special education services.
In 2008, two additional Indiana facilities were investigated — Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility, which is a DYS facility, and the Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility, which is the detention center in Marion County. The Pendleton findings are here. The Indianapolis findings authored in 2010 are here.
Change can happen, but we all have to speak up when something does not seem right.