The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is calling for changes in Jefferson County. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) the center says teens often face violence and abuse at the Jefferson County Jail.
Jefferson County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Randy Christian office says he is disappointed in the letter, but that they have nothing to hide. He says the DOJ is welcome to visit anytime, and invited FOX6 News inside to see the cell block housing the juveniles.
The juveniles are kept in cell block F until their court date. But the juveniles being kept at the jail aren't behind bars for petty crimes. Christian says these juveniles are all being tried as adults.
"They've committed crimes of violence, murder, rape, robbery, assaults usually with some kind of weapon," Christian said.
Christian says these juveniles are not angels and adds that the allegations by the SPLC are exaggerated. Read the SPLC letter to Department of Justice: http://sp.lc/1ltX0DG.
According to the complaint the SPLC conducted more than 50 interviews at the jail and found that there was a lack of medical care, filthy conditions, and a lack of protection for the inmates. Christian says the SPLC should take into consideration who the source is.
"What did you think they're going to say? They're going to say, 'Oh yeah it's great, we love it here, the food is fantastic, they treat us great, we've got colored TV.' Absolutely not. So I'm not surprised by the answers they got," Christian said.
The report details specific incidents, but Christian is unaware of the ones the SPLC is referring to.
"Do they attack each other sometimes? Sure they do. Are we pretty good at monitoring that? Absolutely we are. The occasions when it does happen do we document it and get warrants on the offender? Sure we do. But you know what I think? They need to concentrate a little harder on keeping themselves out of jail, than try to turn jail into some kind of country club," said Christian.
Our crew did not see filthy conditions in the cell block. In addition, the cell block was no longer overcrowded due to the reopening of the jail in Bessemer.
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