August 06, 2007
Feds knew about TYC, took no action

After more than six years of the Bush Administration's Justice Department, can anyone honestly say they're surprised by this?

For four years, U.S. Justice Department attorneys heard the horror stories: Inmates in Texas juvenile prisons were being beaten and molested by the people who were supposed to protect them.

Federal watchdogs discreetly collected information and discussed fine legal points as the assaults piled up. More than 2,000 allegations of staff abusing inmates were confirmed by the Texas Youth Commission from January 2003 to December 2006.

The Justice Department ultimately declined to prosecute anyone at TYC or do anything to compel agency-wide reforms.

Attorneys said they were constrained by narrowly drawn laws and insufficient evidence. But there was also a political climate at Justice that discouraged prosecution of official misconduct cases, former department attorneys said.

As Grits (who has more depressing news about the TYC) and Vince say, you really have to read the whole thing. Just one thing to add, which is a note about a couple of the players who appear in this story. One is Bradley Schlozman:

The tone set by the political leadership prodded career attorneys to think strategically about which cases they pushed, said Albert Moskowitz, chief of the Criminal Section from 1999 to 2005.

He said his supervisor, Bradley Schlozman, left no doubt about his distaste for abuse of authority cases. Mr. Schlozman, a former deputy assistant attorney general, has emerged as a key figure in Congress' investigation of Justice Department politics.

"He sort of made that clear, and that had a sort of self-censoring effect on people," Mr. Moskowitz said. "People got awards not for doing police cases but for doing [human] trafficking cases."

Schlozman was one of the lead figures in pushing bogus "voter fraud" prosecutions at DoJ. Just exactly the kind of guy you want to be in charge of protecting civil rights, in other words.

And two, Jeff Blackburn:

However, Jeff Blackburn, a leading civil rights attorney from Amarillo, said federal civil rights prosecutions under Mr. Bush's two attorneys general, John Ashcroft and Mr. Gonzales, were "a complete joke."

"On the surface, it just appears they're making case-by-case decisions, and they always have an excuse to not take one. But when you start piecing all those case-by-case decisions together, you see a sweeping decision," Mr. Blackburn said. "The decision to prosecute on these cases is totally political and always discretionary."

Blackburn was one of the attorneys who represented the wrongly incarcerated Tulia defendants in their successful civil suit.

Enough said. Read it and weep.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 06, 2007 to Scandalized!