CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION HIGHLIGHTS
The Justice Department filed a statement of interest in Southwest Key Programs, Inc. v. City of Escondido, a case in the Southern District of California, to address the question of whether the protections of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) extend to group homes for unaccompanied children in the care and custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The plaintiff in the case sought to operate such a home in the City of Escondido. The complaint alleges that the city discriminated on the basis of race and national origin when it denied the request for a conditional use permit to operate the group home. Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing, among other things, that the FHA does not apply. The United States’ statement of interest urges the court to find that the proposed group home is a “dwelling” covered by the Fair Housing Act and is neither a jail nor a detention facility.
Three former supervisory correctional officers at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, were indicted for beating a handcuffed and shackled inmate, and conspiring to cover up their misconduct by falsifying official records, committing perjury and tampering with witnesses as well as physical evidence.
The Justice Department announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Louisiana Tech University to ensure that black students have access to the high-quality education programs at the A.E. Phillips Laboratory School, a K-8 public school operated by Louisiana Tech on its campus in Lincoln Parish, Louisiana.
The Justice Department announced that it has opened an investigation into the conditions at the Boyd County Detention Center in Catlettsburg, Kentucky. The investigation will focus on whether prisoners are adequately protected from the use of excessive force, whether prisoners are subject to an invasion of their bodily privacy and whether the jail indiscriminately uses restrictive housing without due process.
A 21-count indictment was unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York charging seven defendants with sex trafficking, conspiracy and related offenses. The indictment, which was returned under seal on Sept. 15, 2016, alleges that the defendants are members of an international sex trafficking organization which operated in Mexico and the United States between 2000 and 2016. Fourteen victims of the charged sex trafficking organization are identified in the indictment.
The Justice Department announced that it has filed a lawsuit against the owners, builder and designer of the Ashlynn Estates in Ellensburg, Washington, alleging that the property was designed and constructed without complying with the Fair Housing Act’s (FHA) accessibility requirements.