The RI ACLU has urged the United States Department of Justice to investigate the detention of truants overnight at the state Training School. In a letter sent to DOJ officials, the ACLU asserts that the documented detention by Family Court judges of at least 28 minors violates a federal law, known as the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, that bars the imprisonment of minors who are charged with committing status offenses, such as truancy.
The detentions have occurred when the minors have been held in criminal contempt of court for exhibiting disrespectful behavior at their truancy hearings. In one of the cases, a 12-year-old girl who had no lawyer or parent present at her hearing, was sent to the Training School for two nights after slamming a door behind her. The ACLU insists that it is abundantly clear that the detention of these juveniles at the Training School violates the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.
The ACLU’s request for the investigation was made in advance of a planned investigation of the facility by Justice Department officials next week.