- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Lawsuits filed in state District Court allege that four boys from Las Cruces endured abuse at the hands or direction of state employees while in custody at a juvenile facility in Albuquerque.

The lawsuits allege that food deprivation, physical violence and sexual abuse occurred in a residential unit of the state-run Youth Diagnostic and Development Center in early 2012, the Santa Fe New Mexican (https://bit.ly/1ljGFqI ) reported.

The lawsuits also allege that a gang-minded culture and adult prison mentality were prevalent at the facility, which was created for diagnosis and rehabilitation of juveniles.

State Children Youth and Families spokesman Henry Varela said the agency cannot comment on pending litigation or personnel matters.

The lawsuits alleged that children were denied the use of toilet facilities for hours at a time and that children from Albuquerque were allowed to steal stamps and mail from the Las Cruces youths.

The lawsuits, which were filed by Santa Fe attorney James A. Hayes, seek compensatory and punitive damages for the plaintiffs as well as court costs and legal fees.

Defendants in the case included numerous state employees, including supervisors.

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