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Victims Of Arkansas Juvenile Hall Sex Abuse Can Request A Free, Private Review Of Their Cases With The Potential For Compensation
After years of scandal and allegations of juvenile mistreatment, the Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center (AJATC), a 100-bed juvenile lockup facility near Alexander, was handed over to an independent contractor promising a fresh start last summer.
However, several families with children locked up at the facility said AJATC continues to take an overly punitive approach. This is what she described as “a culture of casual violence.”
Lafont recently acquired video of an incident captured by facility cameras. In this incident, a guard jumped over a table, grabbed a 15-year-old, and pushed him against the wall with his hand around his throat. The child did not appear in the video to be acting in a way that could be construed as endangering himself or others. The guard, Darrell Woods, whose official job title was group living counselor, was fired. The Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division (CADC) investigated the incident and determined that Woods’ actions constituted child maltreatment and that Woods’ should be placed on the Arkansas Child Maltreatment Central Registry.
AJATC is one of seven juvenile lockup facilities, known as treatment centers, overseen by DYS. Before Rite of Passage took control last year, AJATC had a long trouble history. In 2003, the facility was placed under federal court supervision after a U.S. Department of Justice investigation revealed various violations of constitutional rights. These violations included unsafe conditions, inadequate education, and forced religious activities. In 2007, under court supervision, an internal state investigation found that lockup staffers improperly drugged children without their consent to control their behavior.
The number of violent incidents at the facility nearly doubled after being released from federal supervision. Multiple staffers were fired or resigned after accusations of assaulting youths. An investigation by the Disability Rights Center of Arkansas also found systemic problems at the facility. This included accusations that staff members used candy to bribe youths to fight each other.
We believe all victims of Arkansas juvenile hall sex abuse should request a free, private review of their cases with the potential for compensation.
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