Special to SEGAZINE
Today Commissioner Avery D. Niles announced the conclusion of the state Department of Juvenile Justice’s month-long internal investigation to determine causes behind department deficiencies that prevented the completion of DJJ sex abuse investigations under deadline as required by agency policy.
Commissioner Niles said that following an exhaustive review examining hundreds of files and covering 18-months of DJJ cases, his Advisory Committee found a total of twelve reports of Staff-on-Youth sex abuse allegations which meet the federal classification requirements, and yet remain open and incomplete.
“That’s twelve too many and they’ve been waiting too long for final determinations,” said Commissioner Niles. “We assigned those cases to investigators on loan from the Department of Corrections for expedited, independent follow-ups.”
THREE STAFF-ON-YOUTH CASES SUBSTANTIATED – Accused Officers Terminated The same DJJ Advisory Committee found three Staff-on-Youth sex abuse cases that were substantiated. “All three of those corrections officers were terminated,” said Commissioner Niles. “DJJ immediately referred two of those staff members to outside law enforcement for prosecution. I gave clear warning when I was appointed Commissioner that regardless of employee seniority, rank or position, the consequences will be especially serious for this kind of criminal violation at DJJ.”
To maintain agency best-practices, Commissioner Niles had assigned his Advisory Committee the task of comparing the number of actual reported sex abuse cases in DJJ detention facilities, with the number of sex abuse complaints alleged in a recent federal survey report.
A month ago, Commissioner Niles suspended 18 members of the DJJ Investigation Division along with their former director, after the Advisory Committee’s review determined the Investigation Unit was seriously out of compliance with investigation deadline policies.
DJJ OPEN-CASE REVIEW RESULTS Commissioner Niles ordered his Advisory Committee to personally hand-examine every open department case-file after their preliminary finding revealed each of the suspended DJJ investigators had at least one case file still open from the year 2012.
The Advisory Committee reported three important findings.
1. First they documented the number of open cases designated as sex abuse complaints which remained open during the 18-month period.
2. Second, they recommended agency administrative changes to be ordered by the Commissioner as a result of their open case findings.
3. Third, the Committee outlined other constraining factors they discovered contributing to the backlog of incomplete case files:
· Multiple leadership changes
· Subsequent changes in agency goals
· Outdated technology
· Agency priorities focused on significant current events
· Cumbersome and outmoded agency policies and procedures
Commissioner Niles had publicly predicted the final number of open case files would be “considerably higher” than the twenty open sex abuse allegations which caused him to launch his internal investi