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Unmet promises subject DJF wards to unconstitutional conditions

Thursday morning's Farrell hearing did not reach a decision.   The purpose of the hearing was to consider the Prison Law Office's (plaintiff) motion to hold DJF (defendant) in contempt of court for the unconstitutional levels of care provided to youth at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF).  The allegations against DJF are strong, as cited in previous CJCJ blogs, and after continued failure to comply with the court orders, the Prison Law Office decided to pursue a more forceful mechanism and hold DJF in contempt court.   The plaintiff, Donald Specter, stated, "we have tried court orders, [but] sought contempt because we felt it was the only tool left to get [DJF] to comply."  

However, it is clear DJF will not be able to meet the desired results under the current 30-day timeframe for logistical reasons.  DJF indicated they are working on compliance with court orders.  They further indicated it would require 3 months at minimum to hire new staff and 6 months to obtain ready-to-use classroom space, in order to meet requirements.  While clearly frustrated with the continued pattern of unmet promises and dissatisfaction with current conditions at VYCF, the Honorable Judge Tigar stated he has seen the facilities himself, and he recognized DJF's improvements and efforts towards compliance.  Therefore, per his request, the parties agreed to devise a more reasonable timeframe that would allow the Judge to hold DJF to stricter compliance if they still do not comply.  Both parties will meet in a few weeks to discuss agreed upon dates and new issues for compliance, as recommended in the 18th Special Master Report, which came out earlier this week. 

Judge Tigar concluded with the following remarks, "The Consent Decree is about minimums, about thresholds....and everyday that these minimums are not being met is a day these wards are being subject to conditions that are unconstitutional." 

~Emily Luhrs
Sentencing Service Program Case Specialist

Keywords: DJF/DJJ, Emily Luhrs, Farrell

Posted in Blog, Juvenile Justice, Correctional Institutions

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