A Department of Justice civil-rights lawyer said Mississippi’s two juvenile correction centers dispensed the most atrocious abuse his agency has investigated in 20 years, reports the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. If Justice Department prevails in a pending lawsuit over the allegations at the Oakley and Columbia training schools, the state would be subject to strict corrective measures or risk being in contempt. Brad Schlozman, deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s civil rights division, made his remarks last night in a town hall meeting organized by U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. “We’ve been dealing with scores of institutions across the country although none, none, nearly as bad as the two facilities here in Mississippi,” Schlozman said. “This is clearly the worst two we have seen in probably 20 years in the Department of Justice, and that’s saying something.”
Thompson received complaints of abuse at the schools in 2001 and asked state officials to investigate. When officials were unresponsive, he turned to the Department of Justice, which investigated in 2002 and released a report last year that contained shocking allegations. “It took about two years, and when the investigation came out they found a whole lot more,” Thompson said. “You don’t help a child by stripping them naked and doing all kinds of barbaric things, hogtying and shackling.” Oakley Training School in Raymond and Columbia Training School in Columbia house about 550 youths combined. Most are boys 10 to 17, but Columbia also houses girls 10 to 18.