Justice Department officials issued findings on Friday which outline complex inconsistencies in the administration of justice by the County of Saint Louis, Missouri. In the report, it is alleged the Saint Louis County Family Court System committed serious violations of the constitutional rights of accused African-American youths.
Among the specific conclusions drawn from the two-year investigation were that the Saint Louis County Family Court routinely declined to provide legal counsel to black youths, probable cause had not been correctly established against the accused in custody, and confessions had been extracted without the accused fully recognizing the extent of the ramifications.
Further interpretations stated black youths were more likely to have their individual cases handled formally, more than twice as likely to be detained prior to trial, and three times more likely to be sent to Youth Services for violations of parole than their white counterparts.
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Vanita Gupta, released a statement which read: “The findings we issue today are serious and compelling.”
The review, which predates 18-year-old Michael Brown’s assault on Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson which resulted in Wilson’s fatal shooting of the attacker, is the outcome of a substantial review of over 33,000 juvenile cases in Saint Louis County.
“In short, black children are subjected to harsher treatment because of their race,” wrote Gupta, in her letter to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. Gupta also cited a system which appeared to be acutely understaffed with a “staggering caseload of delinquency cases” managed by a sole public defender.
In response, Governor Nixon, according the Associated Press (AP), stated the report was “deeply concerning.”
Prior to the furnishing of the report to the public, Justice Department officials consulted with officials with Saint Louis County to determine suitable recommendations to resolve the determinations of the inquiry.[rtnews] [documentcloud.org]