Home News Center Racial Discrimination & Failure of Due Process Among Constitutional Violations in St. Louis Family Court, DOJ Report Says

Racial Discrimination & Failure of Due Process Among Constitutional Violations in St. Louis Family Court, DOJ Report Says

August 13, 2015
Zoe Schein

juvenile-justice-reform_St-Louis_DOJFollowing a nearly two-year investigation, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has released a report documenting “a number of constitutional violations” in the St. Louis County Family Court. Their most serious findings included:

  • Failure to ensure youth facing delinquency proceedings have adequate legal representation;
  • Failure to make adequate determinations that there is probable cause that a child committed the alleged offense;
  • Failure to provide adequate due process to children facing certification for criminal prosecution in adult criminal court;
  • Failure to ensure that children’s guilty pleas are entered knowingly and voluntarily;
  • An organizational structure that is rife with conflicts of interest, is contrary to separation of powers principles and deprives children of adequate due process; and
  • Disparate treatment of Black children at four key decision points within the juvenile justice system.

The DOJ found that Black children in the St. Louis County Family court were less likely than White children to be diverted from the court system, more likely to be held in custody pretrial, more likely to be placed in lockup for violations of court supervision arrangements, and more likely to be placed in the custody of the Division of Youth Services post-adjudication than their White peers.

Read the DOJ’s full report. 

Read the DOJ's press release.  


Photo: Alex Proimos

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