Class Action Lawsuit Takes Aim At Juvenile Detention Facilities

( – When children are convicted of crimes, they’re not sent into mainstream prison but rather into juvenile detention facilities, where they are supposed to be protected by authorities. However, in Illinois, nearly 100 men and women filed suit against the state, alleging they were abused while in custody by those who were supposed to care for and guide them.

On Monday, 95 men and women filed a lawsuit against the state in the Illinois Court of Claims. In the 186-page complaint, they detail the alleged “culture of abuse” at the hands of corrections officers, nurses, sergeants, a chaplain, and therapists.

The lawsuit claims Illinois failed to investigate incidents and failed to supervise and discipline those accused of sexual abuse. It also cited systemic strip searches as perpetrating the alleged abuse. The assaults reportedly took place between 1996 and 2017.

The attorney who brought the case, Jerome Block, said the 95 were just a sampling of the hundreds of victims Illinois failed to protect. One of them, now 36-year-old Jeffery Christian, said he was happy to come forward because he wants to help those who might be suffering silently. He detailed his experience, which began at the age of 13, and said he was sexually assaulted at two different detention centers, including by a counselor. Christian said he reported the incident, but nobody took action, and because he spoke out, staff targeted him more.

Governor JB Pritzker (D) addressed the lawsuit, saying he wasn’t at the helm when the abuse occurred and “it was a matter that involved a prior administration.” However, he referred the media to the Department of Juvenile Justice when pressed for more information.

The state, its Department of Corrections, and the Department of Juvenile Justice are listed as defendants in the lawsuit, which is seeking $2 million in damages per plaintiff. This isn’t the first lawsuit of its kind, either. Similar complaints have been filed in other states, including New York, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and California.

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