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S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice and U.S. Department of Justice announce voluntary settlement agreement

Thu, 04/14/2022

COLUMBIA, SC – The South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (SCDJJ) has entered a voluntary settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) for the SCDJJ to implement critical and necessary changes at the Broad River Road Complex (BRRC).

This agreement stems from a USDOJ investigation initiated in 2017, where the USDOJ concluded there was reasonable cause to believe that certain conditions at BRRC violated the constitutional rights of youth at that facility. The initial findings letter was released in February 2020.

Since 2017 SCDJJ has been cooperative with USDOJ and has taken a proactive approach and demonstrated a willingness to implement change allowing these concerns to be to be resolved without the risk and expense of litigation. Throughout this process, SCDJJ was represented by Clarence Davis, Esq.

“The SCDJJ is at a pivotal point in its history,” said Interim Director Eden Hendrick. “We are optimistic and determined to use this Settlement Agreement as an opportunity to institute sweeping reforms that will positively impact youth, their families, our staff, and the state of South Carolina.”

The agreement includes important changes in policies and training around investigations, programming, uses of force, classification, isolation, and responses to youth-on-youth fights, among others. Although SCDJJ has agreed to implement these changes as part of this Settlement Agreement, the agency is also making these important transformations as part of the shift in culture and mission from a corrections-based juvenile justice model to a more contemporary and effective rehabilitative mode.

As part of the negotiations, USDOJ agreed to release the use of force findings contemporaneously with the filing of the Settlement Agreement. These findings are concerning, however, SCDJJ has already taken steps to address many of these past issues.

These steps include the hiring of national consultants, a complete agency wide overhaul of the security camera system, near completion of the required staffing study, reallocating staff and resources in preparation for the additional requirements in the Inspector General’s Office and finalizing plans to retrofit our existing dorms in order to cease using the current isolation building.

The settlement agreement along with the new leadership’s core values address the safety needs and culture at BRRC, to include how staff interact with and care for youth and each other and what the expectations are around respect, safety, security, accountability, professionalism, and the rehabilitation of youth.

“BRRC is fortunate to have many experienced and devoted staff who serve our youth with dedication every day and they are committed to the long-term work to improve the facility and its processes to achieve better outcomes for our youth,” Hendrick said.