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juvenile justice

  • Several civil rights groups are suing South Carolina over conditions at its juvenile lockups that have left children in state custody subject to violence and isolation. The lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday describes violence and neglect across facilities run by the state Department of Juvenile Justice. The groups say agency staff ignore and enable the violence and isolate children in small cells for minor infractions. The lawsuit echoes findings in recent years by federal and state investigators. Agency officials agreed to cooperate with the Department of Justice earlier this month to make changes at its main detention center in Columbia.
  • The South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice says it will reform its beleaguered central prison for youths through a federal agreement. The settlement agreement announced Thursday follows a report from the U.S. Department of Justice that found state officials were violating the rights of incarcerated youths. State officials say they will now ensure facilities are properly staffed, offer rehabilitative programming and revise use-of-force policies, among other measures. Federal investigators say the agency has failed to protect youths from fights and forced them to spend days or weeks in isolation for small offenses. The Justice Department says agency employees have also harmed children by using excessive force such as choking, punching and kicking.
  • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is appointing an attorney who has temporarily steered the state's struggling Department of Juvenile Justice to be the agency's next permanent leader. McMaster announced Tuesday that he's naming Eden Hendrick as the agency's executive director. Hendrick has helmed the department in an acting role since September, when former director Freddie Pough stepped down. The end of Pough's tenure was marked by a scathing state audit and dissatisfaction from lawmakers. Hendrick says she's worked to turn the agency around by changing up the leadership structure, refining hiring and retention practices and modernizing agency facilities that hold incarcerated youths.
  • Looking for work in South Carolina? Juvenile Justice corrections officers get $35,000 a year to start, but the shifts are grueling and violence is an ever-present danger. Eden Hendrick just took over South Carolina's Office of Juvenile Justice. She told lawmakers that she has 232 corrections officer vacancies — more than she has officers.