Formal Complaint Filed After San Diego CityBeat Reports of Pepper Spray Abuse in Juvenile Halls

Prompted by a San Diego CityBeat investigation into the overuse of pepper spray in juvenile detention facilities, a coalition of civil rights groups has filed a 34-page formal complaint asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the San Diego County Probation Department’s practices:

According to the complaint, [the Youth Law Center] and El Grupo initiated an investigation of pepper-spray use in San Diego County juvenile facilities in 2012 after San Diego CityBeat, in collaboration with, reported that pepper spray, also known as oleoresin capsicum, or OC spray, had been used on juveniles 461 times in a single year. As we noted then, and is noted in the complaint, only a handful of states allow juvenile-detention staff to carry pepper spray. More than 70 percent of facilities nationwide ban its use entirely. Many jurisdictions, including Los Angeles County, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Division of Juvenile Justice and the Texas Youth Commission have been forced to reduce pepper-spray usage after legal pressure from civil rights groups and youth advocates.

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