- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) - The Department of Justice announced Wednesday an agreement with Leflore County to improve security and facility conditions at the local juvenile detention center in Greenwood.

The county board of supervisors approved the pact in April. Supervisors say agreement places the juvenile detention center under Justice Department oversight but allows the county to avoid litigation.

The settlement resolves federal allegations, raised after a 2009 visit, that conditions at the facility violated the constitutional rights of youth detained there.

The settlement covers policies, procedures and training at the facility.

The facility, located near the Leflore County Courthouse, is one of 15 juvenile detention centers in Mississippi and houses youth from a number of different counties.

The agreement was filed Wednesday in the federal district court of the Northern District of Mississippi. Upon court approval, it will require significant reforms that will enhance safety and security for children held at the detention center, U.S. Attorney Felicia C. Adams of the Northern District of Mississippi said in a statement.

“The agreement will put in place reforms that will keep at-risk children safe as they prepare to return to their communities,” Adams said.

Adams said Leflore County also agreed to end the use of solitary confinement as a form of discipline and to limit solitary confinement to a cool-down period not to exceed one hour.

Other reforms concern intake and classification, use of force and restraints, behavior management, solitary confinement, suicide prevention and mental health care, medical care, due process, incident reporting, sanitation, fire safety and security staffing. In addition, the agreement contains provisions governing data gathering, quality assurance and policy revision.

The agreement requires Leflore County to obtain expert assistance to meet its reform obligations.

Adams said the agreement will terminate once Leflore County has achieved 12 consecutive months of substantial compliance with it.

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