Civil Rights Division Updates

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Justice Department opened a civil rights investigation into the death of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The recent death of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, is currently under local investigation. We are aware of the tragic events that resulted in his death, and the Department of Justice and FBI are currently monitoring the situation.

In remarks on Thursday, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch addressed these recent events and said: “Let us work together to ensure that all Americans have both a voice and value in this great country of ours. I want to reaffirm my full commitment – and the full commitment of the Department of Justice – to advancing that effort. To those exercising that most fundamental of our freedoms, we hear your voices and feel your pain. To all of the law enforcement officers who continue to risk their lives day in and day out to keep us safe and protect those essential freedoms, I extend my deepest thanks.”

Head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta delivered remarks at a Southern Center for Human Rights Symposium on the Criminalization of Race and Poverty. In her speech she said, “When the criminal justice system ends up punishing people for the size of their bank account or the color of their skin rather than the severity of their crime, it raises serious constitutional concerns. It traps the most vulnerable among us in perpetual cycles of poverty, debt and incarceration. It undermines the legitimacy of our justice system. It threatens the integrity of our democracy.”

The Justice Department reached a resolution agreement with Wheaton College in Massachusetts to ensure the college implements a swift and effective response to allegations of sexual assault and harassment involving students.

The Justice Department announced it has reached an agreement with the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles (LASC) to ensure that limited English proficient (LEP) court users will have access to timely and accurate language assistance services.

Vanita Gupta gave remarks at a White House Conference on Trauma-Informed Approaches in School to Support Girls of Color and Rethink Discipline. She explained that “Whether due to bullying, sexual assault or discriminatory discipline, the trauma of injustices and indignities can reverberate for years. Trauma can invade nearly every area of a girl’s life. It can damage family relationships. It can interfere with schoolwork and academic performance. It can carry over into one’s social life by making the already awkward, challenging years of adolescence, all the more difficult. And it can leave an emotional and psychological toll that may not be the most visible harm, but that can linger painfully for years.”

The Justice Department issued a new publication, “Language Access in State Courts,” that provides an overview of the importance of legal requirements for, and accomplishments in, providing language access services in state courts across the country. The report – published by the Civil Rights Division’s Federal Coordination and Compliance Section – covers several key areas related to language access in state courts, including: court services and programs; criminal court proceedings; civil court proceedings; limited English Proficient (LEP) witnesses, victims, and others; no-cost language services; and qualification and training of interpreters. The Division’s efforts are part of its ongoing Courts Language Access Initiative, which seeks to level the playing field for people with limited English proficiency in state courts.

The Justice Department filed a proposed consent decree with 30 Hop restaurant and bar in Coralville, Iowa, resolving claims that the establishment violated the new construction requirements of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Justice Department reached a comprehensive settlement agreement with the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California State Board of Education to improve their compliance monitoring systems and ensure language instruction services to the approximately 1.4 million English Learner (EL) students in the state’s public schools.

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