The American Civil Liberties Union and its Rhode Island affiliate are urging federal justice officials in Washington to investigate the lockup of truants at the state Training School.
The ACLU has asked officials in the U.S. Justice Department — who are scheduled to arrive in Rhode Island Tuesday — to investigate “documented evidence” published in a December 2010 Providence Journal article that showed, since 2005, at least 28 youths from the state Family Court’s truancy program had been detained overnight.
The Journal article described how juveniles who attended weekly truancy hearings in classrooms, cafeterias and school offices around the state were declared in criminal contempt of court and sent to the Training School. Their offenses included not answering a magistrate’s questions, swearing or otherwise acting disrespectful. In one case, a 12-year-old girl was ordered held for two nights for slamming a door on her way out of the room. At the time, the girl had no parent or lawyer present.