The U.S. Justice Department has threatened to sue Arizona if it doesn’t move quickly to improve a juvenile corrections system that exposes inmates to serious health and safety risks, the Associated Press reports. A Justice Department report cited three juvenile suicides in 12 months, inadequate suicide-prevention programs, and other serious shortcomings.
The U.S. has given Arizona a late March deadline to correct the problems. State officials expressed a desire to make improvements, the report said. The Juvenile Corrections Department houses 675 youths in its secure facilities, 617 in community corrections and 250 in other settings, such as mental hospitals and institutions outside Arizona.
The report cited assaults on offenders by other youths and staff members, and said programs were short of staff and lacked effective grievance and investigation procedures.