Skip navigation

Cripa Sand Springs Ok City Rader Center Investigation Findings 6-8-05

Download original document:
Brief thumbnail
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.
June 8, 2005

The Honorable Brad Henry
State of Oklahoma
State Capitol Building
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Room 212
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Investigation of the L. E. Rader Center,

Sand Springs, Oklahoma 

Dear Governor Henry:
I write to report the findings of the Civil Rights Division’s investigation of
conditions at the L. E. Rader Center (“Rader”) in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. On March
31, 2004, we notified you of our intent to conduct an investigation of Rader pursuant to
the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (“CRIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997, and the
Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141 (“Section
14141”). As we noted, both CRIPA and Section 14141 give the Department of Justice
authority to seek a remedy for a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the
constitutional or federal statutory rights of children in juvenile justice institutions.
The level of cooperation from the Office of Attorney General (“OAG”) has been
mixed. The OAG provided the United States with some of the documents we
requested. Specifically, the OAG provided us with incident reports, youth grievances,
disciplinary reports, and abuse investigations from January 1, 2003 to May 30, 2004.
The OAG would not, however, produce the medical reports that the facility generated
during the same time period. The lack of medical reports severely limited our ability to
assess the number and severity of injuries that youth at Rader suffered following
juvenile assaults, staff abuse, and incidents of self-injurious behavior.
More importantly, the OAG refused to allow the United States the opportunity to
tour the Rader facility to observe operations and interview staff and residents. From
April 2004 to February 2005, the United States attempted to work with the OAG to
address any concerns and ensure that our tour would not disrupt operations at Rader.
The OAG repeatedly refused to permit the United States to tour the facility. This lack of
cooperation severely impeded our investigation.

By law, our investigation must proceed regardless of whether officials choose to
cooperate fully. Indeed, when CRIPA was enacted, lawmakers considered the
possibility that state and local officials might not cooperate in our federal investigation.
See H.R. CONF. REP. 96-897, at 12 (1980), reprinted in 1980 U.S.C.C.A.N. 832, 836.
Such non-cooperation is a factor that may be considered adversely when drawing
conclusions about a facility. See id. We now draw such an adverse conclusion.1
Consistent with the statutory requirements of CRIPA, I now write to advise you of
the findings of our investigation, the facts supporting them, and the minimum remedial
measures that are necessary to address the deficiencies we have identified. As
described more fully below, we conclude that the conditions of confinement violate the
constitutional rights of youth confined at Rader. In particular, we find that, based on
constitutionally deficient practices, Rader fails to protect children from harm or the risk
of harm.
The State of Oklahoma (“State”), through its Office of Juvenile Affairs (“OJA”),
operates Rader, the largest secure juvenile justice facility in the State. Rader has bed
space for approximately 215 juveniles who have been adjudicated delinquent and are
19 years of age or younger. Although Rader housed both male and female youth at the
inception of our investigation, recent news reports indicate that OJA removed all girls
from the facility in February 2005.


As a general matter, States must provide confined juveniles with reasonably safe
conditions of confinement. See Youngberg v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307, 315-24 (1982);
Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535-36 & n.16 (1979). As the Tenth Circuit stated in
Yvonne L. v. New Mexico Dept. of Human Serv., 959 F.2d 883 (10th Cir. 1992),
“juveniles involuntarily placed in a private school by state agencies or a court [have]
liberty interests protected by the Fourteenth Amendment; specifically, ‘[s]uch [a] person
has the right to reasonably safe conditions of confinement.’” Id. at 893-94 (quoting
Milonas v. Williams, 691 F.2d 931, 942 (10th Cir. 1982)). As described below, the State
has fallen far short of this constitutional obligation.
Our investigation revealed that the State fails to protect youth confined at Rader
from harm due to constitutionally deficient practices. Specifically, the State fails to
The State’s non-cooperation constitutes only one factor that we consider in
preparing our statutory findings and recommendations. We also have considered the
documentation provided by the State, reports issued by the American Correctional
Association (“ACA”), news articles, and interviews with private attorneys, public
defenders, and local law enforcement officers.


protect youth from: (1) sexually inappropriate relationships with staff and other
juveniles; (2) juvenile-on-juvenile violence; (3) self-injurious behavior; (4) inadequate
management of psychotropic medication; and (5) excessive use of force by staff.2

Sexually Inappropriate Relations

Contrary to its legal obligations, the State fails to provide adequate supervision
and monitoring to ensure that juveniles at Rader are not subjected to inappropriate
sexual relationships with staff or other residents. See Youngberg, 457 U.S. at 324;
Yvonne L., 959 F.2d at 893.

Sexual Relationships Between Staff and Youth

Documents produced by the State indicated that numerous sexual relationships
developed between female staff members and male youth. It appears that in some
instances other staff members were aware of these relationships and brought them to
the attention of supervisors and administrators. However, administrators and
supervisors failed to take prompt, appropriate action. Examples of inappropriate sexual
relationships between staff and youth include:

On May 31, 2004, a male youth reported to a client advocate at Rader that
a female staff member permitted a youth to carry her into his room and
place her on his bed where the youth and others fondled her.3 The youth
reported that the female staff member previously spoke in a sexual
manner with youth and permitted them to touch her in inappropriate ways.
The documents we received from the State did not indicate whether an
internal investigation substantiated the youth’s claims regarding the
alleged sexual contact, and if so, whether any disciplinary action was

Except where specifically noted, internal Rader investigations and/or
investigations conducted by the Office of Client Advocacy (“OCA”) of the Oklahoma
Department of Human Services provide the basis for all allegations set forth in this

A “client advocate” is a staff member at Rader who refers allegations of
misconduct to administrators, assists youth with grievances, and represents youth in
discipline hearings.



In the Fall of 2003, female staff member A.W.4 and a male youth engaged
in a sexual relationship. Rader staff found correspondence between the
two that confirmed the relationship.5


In September 2003, female staff member N.R. engaged in a sexual
relationship with male youth J.J., who was classified as a sex offender.
Staff member N.R. and youth J.J. twice engaged in oral sex and digital
penetration in the linen closet of the mental health stabilization unit. Staff
member N.R. also permitted a different youth, D.Q., to fondle her in front
of other youth on the unit. Youth J.J. became very territorial of the staff
member and had numerous physical altercations with other youth over
her.6 At least eight staff members voiced their concerns to staff member
N.R. and to supervisors about staff member N.R.’s behavior. Indeed, one
staff member stated that he considered the female staff member to be a
“sexual predator.” Documents provided by the State indicate that OCA
confirmed sexual abuse by staff member N.R.7 We requested but were
not provided documentation regarding any discipline or corrective action
taken by the State following this incident.


Between July 2003 and October 2003, female staff member B.K. and a
male youth engaged in inappropriate sexual relations. Staff observed staff
member B.K. use her foot to rub the inner thigh of the youth while the two
were seated in the day room of the unit. Staff also noted that staff
member B.K. spent a great deal of time in the youth’s bedroom. Indeed,
one staff observed staff member B.K. lying on the youth’s bed. Staff
reportedly noted the inappropriate relationship early on, yet failed to report
it to administrators. Administrators took action to address the relationship
after a security staff member intercepted a letter from staff member B.K. to
the youth. The letter contained sexually explicit language and included the

In this letter, we use pseudonym initials of youth and staff in order to protect their
identities and privacy.

The OJA Office of Public Integrity (“OPI”) conducted an investigation of staff A.W.
and found the letters in the course of that investigation. The State did not provide
documents from the OPI investigation, so we do not know what action, if any, was taken
by the State.

For example, youth J.J. noticed youth L.M. staring at the female staff. Youth J.J.
leaped on to a table and kicked youth L.M. in the face.

OJA refers many allegations of staff misconduct to the OCA. The OCA either
conducts its own investigation or sends the matter back to OJA for Rader staff to


female staff member’s home phone number. Documents provided by the
State indicate that OCA confirmed sexual abuse by staff member B.K.
Staff member B.K. resigned her employment on October 8, 2003.

From September 2002 through February 2003, a male youth and female
staff member R.G. engaged in a sexual relationship. During this six month
period, there was abundant indicia of inappropriate behavior. For
example: the female staff member frequently shared her food with the
youth; she brought him electronic games and other “goodies;” the youth
sent letters to the female staff member at her home address; the female
staff member mailed Valentine’s Day cards to the youth at Rader; she
gave the youth photos of herself; she brought him into the supply closet
with her; she entered the youth’s room after lights out; she permitted the
youth to stay up after hours and spend time with her; she permitted the
youth to wear her clothes and shoes; she allowed the youth to place his
hand on her thigh in front of other youth; and the female staff member and
the youth engaged in horseplay such as swatting and slapping. During
this time, three different staff members spoke with the female staff
member and other employees wrote memoranda setting forth their
concerns about her behavior. Nevertheless, it took six months for
administrators to address the relationship. Documents provided by the
State indicate that OCA confirmed a finding of sexual abuse against the
female staff member. The State terminated staff R.G.’s employment on
February 20, 2003.

Sexual Relationships Between Youth

Examples of inappropriate sexual relationships between youth include:

On April 3 and 4, 2004, two male youth reportedly engaged in mutual
masturbation while housed on the unit for sex offenders. One of the youth
reported that he participated because he feared the other youth would
harm him.8


On January 29, 2004, an 18-year-old male youth engaged in anal sex with
a 14-year-old male in the restroom of the gym while two staff supervised
13 other youth. The incident occurred while one of the youth was on

We did not receive a final investigation report from the State regarding this
incident. The documents we received indicate that an investigation of this incident was
ongoing and that investigators had not reached a final conclusion as to whether the
conduct occurred.



“close observation” which required staff to know of his whereabouts at all

In August 2003, two female youth engaged in sexual activity in their
dormitory on at least one occasion. The two youth were able to engage in
sexual activity because there was only one staff member monitoring the
housing unit. The other staff member had left the unit to take a smoking
break, in contravention of facility rules. Documents provided by the State
indicate that OCA substantiated a finding of caretaker misconduct on the
staff member who was derelict from duty. Rader suspended the staff
member for three days without pay.


From at least May 2003 through June 2003, two male youth engaged in a
sexual relationship while housed on the sex offender unit. The two youth
regularly paired off and engaged in mutual masturbation and oral sex
while staff were preoccupied with other youth. Documents provided by the
State indicate that OCA substantiated a finding of neglect against one staff
member. Rader suspended the staff member for three days without pay.


On January 26, 2003, two youth classified as sexual offenders left the day
room of their unit and entered one of the bathrooms. The two youth then
engaged in oral and anal sex. Although three staff were on duty, two staff
were dealing with a youth who was acting out in his room and the third
staff was monitoring the day room. OCA investigated the incident and did
not confirm caretaker misconduct, but did confirm sexual activity.


Youth-on-Youth Violence

The State must provide youth confined at juvenile justice facilities with
reasonably safe conditions including protection from assault by other youth. See
Youngberg, 457 U.S. at 324; Yvonne L., 959 F.2d at 893. Incident reports provided by
the State between January 1, 2003 and May 30, 2004, demonstrated that a significant
number of juveniles were involved in youth-on-youth violence.10 Many of the assaults

Documents provided by the State indicate that OCA did not confirm any
allegations of neglect against the staff members charged with supervising the youth, but
did confirm that sexual activity had occurred.

We are aware that the ACA reaccredited Rader in September 2003. We are also
aware that the ACA conducted one-day monitoring tours of Rader in September 2004
and March 2005 in response to problems identified in a report by the Oklahoma
Commission on Children and Youth. Following the March 2005 tour, the ACA issued a
report in which it noted a downward trend in the level of violence at Rader. Without
touring the facility, however, we are unable to verify whether a meaningful reduction in

- 6 -

and injuries at Rader occurred because staff failed to adequately supervise youth.
Other assaults and injuries occurred because staff lacked the knowledge and/or training
to safely intervene once fights occurred. Except where indicated, the following
examples are taken from the documents provided by the State:

On June 18, 2004, a local newspaper reported that a brawl broke out
among seven youth who were members of rival gangs. One youth
suffered a broken jaw and another youth suffered a broken arm. Five
other residents were injured. Ten staff members were taken to a local
hospital to treat injuries they suffered.


On May 16, 2004, youth T.E. and youth G.L. argued at the gym. In
response, staff sent the two youth back to the dorm. Inexplicably, staff
sent them to the dorm unescorted. When they arrived at the dorm, youth
G.L. attacked youth T.E. The one staff person on duty in the dorm refused
to break up the fight. Instead, she ordered other juveniles to intervene.
Youth T.E. received a bruised left eye from this incident. Documents
provided by the State indicate that OCA requested that Rader officials
investigate the incident. To the extent that an internal Rader investigation
exists, the State did not provide us with a copy.


On May 14, 2004, youth F.D. and youth P.Z. fought for several minutes in
youth P.Z.’s bedroom. The fight continued until another youth, M.B.,
broke it up. Youth F.D. suffered two black eyes from the incident. Staff
were unaware that the fight had occurred. Documents provided by the
State indicate that OCA requested that Rader officials investigate the
incident. To the extent that an internal Rader investigation exists, the
State did not provide us with a copy.


On May 8, 2004, youth E.N. and youth G.L. entered the bathroom and
began to fight. Staff were not aware that the fight had occurred until other
youth told staff that youth G.L. was in the bathroom and that his nose was
bleeding. Rader staff transported youth G.L. to the emergency room
where medical personnel determined that he had a broken nose.
Documents provided by the State indicate that OCA would conduct an
investigation. To the extent that OCA did conduct an investigation, the
State did not provide us with a copy.


On May 7, 2004, youth H.R. approached youth P.Z. from behind, choked
him, and slammed him to the ground. Youth P.Z. claimed that there were
staff in the room, but they did not intervene. Instead, another youth
eventually broke up the fight. Youth P.Z. suffered a black eye from the

violence has occurred.

incident. Documents provided by the State indicate that OCA requested
that Rader officials investigate the incident. To the extent that an internal
Rader investigation exists, the State did not provide us with a copy.

On April 29, 2004, a series of youth-on-youth assaults occurred on the
Mental Health Stabilization Unit (“MHSU”). Staff stated in incident reports
that: “We did not/do not believe that we can keep juveniles on this unit


On January 17, 2004, youth A.C. claimed that three youth entered his
room and assaulted him. Youth A.C. claimed that several minutes passed
before staff realized what was happening and responded to the incident.
Youth A.C. suffered an abrasion above his right eye from the incident.
Documents provided by the State indicate that OCA requested that Rader
officials investigate the incident. To the extent that an internal Rader
investigation exists, the State did not provide us with a copy.


On November 24, 2003, youth V.S. assaulted youth J.J. in the shower.
The OCA investigated the incident and confirmed that inadequate staff
supervision made it possible for the assault to occur. Rader staff took
youth J.J. to the emergency room where he received treatment for bruises
to his body. OCA confirmed a charge of caretaker misconduct against
staff D.U., and staff D.U. received a written reprimand and a corrective
action plan.


On July 30, 2003, youth K.V. assaulted youth I.O. while staff W.T. and
staff C.X. were on duty. Staff W.T. intervened and all three fell to the floor.
Staff W.T. restrained youth K.V. and released youth I.O. Several
residents kicked youth K.V. and staff W.T. while they lay on the floor.
Documents produced by the State indicate that staff C.X. did not attempt
to assist staff W.T. or protect youth K.V. OCA confirmed a charge of
neglect against staff C.X., and staff C.X. received a three-day suspension
without pay and a corrective action plan.

Disturbingly, and in a gross departure from sound practices, it appears that in
some cases the staff either actively encouraged a fight to occur or had knowledge that a
fight would occur and allowed it to happen. For example:

On April 16, 2004, youth Y.A. assaulted youth O.U. in the kitchen area
while four other youth watched. Youth O.U. suffered facial bruises, a
bloody nose and mouth, and a cut on his neck. The youth claimed that a
staff member, who was seated only a few feet away when the fight
occurred, permitted the fight to continue. Documents provided by the
state indicate that OCA confirmed staff neglect and inadequate
supervision of youth. The documents also indicate that the staff member
- 8 -

is no longer employed at Rader. It is unclear from the documents,
however, whether Rader terminated the staff member as a result of this
incident or whether he left employment voluntarily.

On February 14, 2004, a staff member verbally encouraged youth J.J. and
youth B.G. to settle their differences by going into their cells and fighting.
The staff member stood outside the locked cell door and watched as the
two youth fought. The staff member did not unlock the door and intervene
until after youth B.G. grabbed youth J.J.’s head and brought it down on his
knee.11 Rader staff transported youth J.J. to the emergency where
medical staff diagnosed him with a broken nose and a closed head injury
with a bruise to his left eye and forehead. Documents provided by the
State indicate that OCA confirmed the allegation of abuse with injury. In
addition, the OCA investigation indicated that the staff member verbally
encouraged the alteration and observed part of the fight. We requested
but were not provided documentation regarding any discipline or
corrective action taken by the State following this incident.

There are other indications that the State fails to properly supervise youth at
Rader. A local newspaper reported on October 24, 2004 that 15 youth had escaped
from Rader or gone AWOL. Indeed, the article stated that on October 16, 2004 two
youth escaped from Rader by prying open a locked door and scaling the facility’s
perimeter security fence. Most recently, the newspaper reported that on March 13,
2005, two 14-year-old youth escaped from Rader by overpowering a staff member,
stealing her keys, and scaling two different fences.
Finally, the lack of adequate supervision makes it possible for an excessive
quantity of contraband to be introduced into the facility. The failure to adequately
control contraband places both staff and youth at risk of harm. See LaMarca v. Turner,
995 F.2d 1526, 1532-37 (11th Cir. 1992) (finding that excessive contraband contributes
to an unsafe environment for inmates). In an institutional setting, contraband is often
used either as a weapon or as currency. According to documents provided by the
State, contraband appears to be readily accessible to juveniles at Rader, and is
regularly used as a weapon, potential weapon, or currency in the facility. For example:

On September 19, 2004, a youth attacked another youth and a staff
member with a four-foot long piece of metal.


In May 2004, staff searched a youth’s room and found a metal rod hidden
in his mattress.

Youth also reported that the staff members on duty spoke about reporting the
incident as either horseplay or an accident in the shower. Neither staff member filed
reports about the incidents although they were required to by facility rules.



In October 2003, staff searched the girls’ unit and found drugs and drug


In June 2003, staff searched a youth’s room after he had taken a
psychotropic medication intended for another youth. In his room, they
found, among other things, batteries and bleach.12


In May 2003, three youths tested positive for marijuana. A search of a
youth’s room uncovered marijuana and a lighter.


In April 2003, staff found a razor blade hidden in a vent in a youth’s cell.


On January 6, 2003, staff searched the room of a male youth and found
money, rolling papers, cigarettes, a lighter, pornography, materials used in
making tattoos (including a bloody rag), and pills.


Self-Injurious and Suicidal Behavior

The State also fails to protect youth at Rader who engage in suicidal and selfinjurious behavior. See Youngberg, 457 U.S. at 324; Yvonne L., 959 F.2d at 893.


In 2003 and 2004, youth at Rader made at least 12 suicide attempts at the
facility. In each case, staff failed to take adequate precautions to protect the youth from
harm. For example:

On March 21, 2004, a youth cut his wrist with the metal from a pencil
eraser and pulled out stitches previously sutured. With the blood from his
wounds, the youth wrote the words “with pain” and “die” on the wall over
his bed. The youth then used a rope made from a towel and his shirt and
tried to strangle himself. OCA investigated the incident and did not
confirm neglect by the staff members supervising the youth.13

A youth could make a weapon by placing the batteries in a sock and swinging the
batteries at an individual. Further, a youth easily could harm himself or others by
swallowing or hurling bleach. Indeed, one youth attempted to poison a staff member by
pouring bleach into the beverage of a staff member.

The OCA investigators accepted the staff members’ representations that they
checked on the youth every 15 minutes. However, the staff members failed to
document these checks. Indeed, they claimed that they were not required to document
the checks even though facility policy explicitly requires staff to do so.

- 10 -


On February 24, 2004, a youth went to his room, closed the door, tied his
belt around his neck, and tried to hang himself. Staff did not realize that
the youth was attempting suicide until he fell to the ground and yelled out
in pain, as he had chipped a bone in his ankle. An internal investigation
confirmed that staff failed to properly supervise the youth. We requested
but were not provided documentation regarding any discipline or
corrective action taken by the State following this incident.


On August 19, 2003, a youth on the MHSU cut himself and staff placed
him on suicide watch. On August 20, 2003, the youth, who was on “close
observation,” went to his room without supervision and closed the door.
Once alone, he tore up his shirt, fashioned the strips into a noose, and tied
it around his neck. Staff found the youth lying on the floor of his room with
red marks around his neck.14 OCA investigated the incident and did not
confirm neglect by the staff members supervising the youth.


On April 10, 2003, staff discovered that a youth had tried to commit
suicide by tying a string about his neck. At the time, the youth was on
suicide watch and wearing a helmet and suicide smock to prevent acts of
self harm. The youth had tied a string to his helmet, wound it around his
neck, and tied the string to his toe. Staff discovered the youth while
distributing medication. A staff member was unable to untie the string
and, instead, burned the string with a lighter he was carrying. Documents
provided by the State do not indicate whether either OCA or Rader
officials investigated the incident.
Two months earlier, on February 8, 2003, staff found the same youth
underneath the desk in his cell. Staff initially thought that he was sleeping.
However, he would not respond to verbal commands to wake up. Staff
soon realized that the youth was unconscious and had wrapped a
shoelace around his neck and attached it to his toe. A staff member used
a lighter to burn the shoelace. Documents provided by the State do not
indicate whether either OCA or Rader officials investigated the incident.


On January 16, 2003, a youth cut both his wrists with a piece of metal.
Staff placed the youth in the day room for closer observation. An hour
later, the youth tried to strangle himself by tying his pillow case around his
neck and strangling himself. Documents provided by the State do not
indicate whether either OCA or Rader officials investigated the incident.

At the time of the incidents, the mental health stabilization unit did not have
policies or procedures governing its operations.

- 11 -


Self-Injurious Behavior

In addition to the attempted suicides, we found many examples of youth who
engaged in self-injurious behaviors. From January 1, 2003 to May 30, 2004, there were
over 35 documented reports of youths punching walls or furniture, banging their heads
against floors and windows, or beating themselves with objects. In most cases, it
appears that staff at Rader are not monitoring adequately children who have a repeated
history of engaging in self-abusive behaviors. The injuries ranged from bruises and
scratches to fractures.15 For example:

On May 28, 2004, a male youth on close supervision managed to wander
into an unauthorized area. The youth became upset and struck a window.
Rader transferred the youth to the hospital where medical staff stitched
the wound.16 In the 18 months prior to this incident, the youth repeatedly
engaged in self-injurious behavior. Incident reports document seven
instances where the youth struck an inanimate object; five instances
where the youth inserted metal into his skin and/or used metal to cut
himself, and one instance where he swallowed ink.


On May 5, 2004, a male youth inserted a two-inch section of paper clip
into his left forearm. Staff did not realize this until three days later.17 Staff
should have been more vigilant to prevent the youth from hurting himself
given that the youth had harmed himself numerous times before. In the
nine months prior to this incident, the youth twice punched out the
windows in doors and at least five times either cut himself or inserted
metal into his skin. During one incident, staff heard the youth singing “cut,
cut, cut!” in his room. Staff entered the room and found that he had cut a
“gaping hole” in his arm. At the time, the youth was supposed to be on
close observation because of an incident earlier in the day in which he
was sent to the hospital after inserting a paper clip under the skin in his

Youth appear to have engaged in these behaviors either to hurt themselves or to
vent their frustrations. For example, on May 1, 2004, when staff asked a youth about a
bruise on his head, he stated that he had beaten his head against the wall in order to
relieve stress.

Documents provided by the State indicate that OCA requested that Rader
officials investigate this incident. To the extent that an internal Rader investigation
exists, the State did not provide us with a copy.

Documents provided by the State indicate that OCA requested that Rader
officials investigate this incident. To the extent that an internal Rader investigation
exists, the State did not provide us with a copy.

- 12 -


Failure to Safely Distribute Psychotropic Medication

The State fails to monitor adequately the distribution of psychotropic medication
to mentally ill youth at Rader. See Youngberg, 457 U.S. at 324. See also Coleman v.
Wilson, 912 F.Supp. 1282, 1309-10 (E.D. Ca. 1995) (finding defendants' system of
medication management unconstitutional based, in part, on their failure to monitor
adequately the hoarding of psychotropic medication). Based on a review of documents
produced by the State, we found that students regularly hoard medication and either
share it with or sell it to other youth. In addition, the nursing staff, at times, appear to
provide youth with the inappropriate type or dosage of medication. For example:

In April 2004, staff found a male youth sitting in a chair in his room. The
youth was non-responsive to verbal commands. The staff shook him, but
he would not respond. Rader staff transported the youth to the hospital.
Documents provided by the State indicate that the youth had consumed
seven pills of prescription medication prescribed to another youth.


In September 2003, a youth provided two pills of a psychotropic
medication and two pills of an anti-depressant to two other youth who
crushed the pills and snorted them.


On August 11, 2003, a male youth swallowed eight pills during medication
distribution. Over a two-week-period the youth had “cheeked” some of his
own medication and had received prescription medication from other
youth.18 The youth hid the medication in his room.


On July 20, 2003, a male youth provided 13 pills to three other youth. The
three youth took the pills without knowing what they were. One youth,
with slurred speech, informed staff that he wanted to fly like Superman.


On June 17, 2003, a male youth took a psychotropic mediation that was
meant for another youth. He was taken to the hospital for detox.


On May 3, 2003, a nurse gave a male youth the wrong medication during
pill distribution. The youth informed the nurse that it was the wrong
medication, but the nurse insisted that it was correct. The nurse later
realized that the youth had, in fact, received the wrong medication.


Excessive Force by Staff

A youth “cheeks” oral medications by hiding the medication either in the cheek or
under their tongue to prevent swallowing. The youth later spits out the medication and
either hides it, gives it away, or sells it to another youth.

- 13 -

Staff at Rader physically restrain youth with great frequency. Staff legally are
permitted to employ physical force when youth pose an immediate risk of harm either to
themselves or to others. See Youngberg, 457 U.S. at 324; Yvonne L., 959 F.2d at 893;
Milonas, 691 F.2d at 942-43. The amount or level of force used, however, should be
the least amount necessary to control the situation and prevent injury to staff and youth.
Our review of documents produced by the State indicates that Rader staff employed
force that was disproportionate to the threat posed by the youth. The following
examples are illustrative:

On March 15, 2004, in response to male youth R.W. trying to push past
him, staff E.V. picked him up and threw him to the ground on his back.
The youth, who is six inches shorter and weighs 100 pounds less than the
staff member, suffered a one-inch cut over his eye that required three
sutures to close as well as bruises and abrasions. An OCA investigation
confirmed staff misconduct by staff E.V. We requested but were not
provided documentation regarding any discipline or corrective action taken
by the State following this incident.


On December 12, 2003, a female staff member and a male youth argued
over the placement of his bed in the day room. At one point, the staff
member called the youth a “bad ass bastard” and told the youth that he
would die while incarcerated. The staff member walked over to the youth
and slapped a cup out of his hand. In the process, the staff member
struck the youth in the face. Other staff approached and restrained the
staff member. The staff member attempted to break free and attack the
youth. Security staff arrived on the unit and placed the staff member in
another room where she proceeded to curse, pace, and verbally threaten
to harm the youth. Security staff reported that the staff member called the
youth a “bitch ass nigger” and challenged him to “do something or shut
up.” An OCA investigation confirmed abuse by the female staff member.
She resigned her position in lieu of termination.


On November 9, 2003, staff E.V. grabbed youth B.G. by the wrist and
threw him to the floor after youth B.G. refused a direct order. The youth
suffered swelling and redness to the temple area. The OCA investigation
confirmed that the staff member used excessive force and that the youth
did not pose a risk to anyone at the time that force was used. We
requested but were not provided documentation regarding any discipline
or corrective action taken by the State following this incident.


On May 10, 2003, youth C.P. repeatedly requested a snack from staff T.B.
Staff T.B. became angry and lunged at youth C.P., pushing the youth
backwards towards the kitchen door. Staff T.B. then picked up youth C.P.
and tried to throw him over his shoulder. Staff T.B. and youth C.P. fell to
- 14 -

the floor where staff T.B. struck youth C.P. in the head and ribs. Staff
M.Q. responded to the altercation and made repeated attempts to strike
youth C.P. with his forearm. At the same time, staff T.B. exerted pressure
to youth C.P.’s throat. Security staff arrived and attempted to intervene.
Staff T.B. and staff M.Q. pushed security staff away and continued to try to
fight youth C.P. even though youth C.P. was not fighting back. At one
point, staff M.Q. attempted to strike youth C.P. but, instead, hit security
staff K.O. in the jaw. An OCA investigation confirmed abuse by staff M.Q.
and staff T.B. Staff D.O. resigned in lieu of termination and Rader
terminated the employment of staff T.B.


In order to rectify the identified deficiencies and protect the constitutional rights of
youth confined at Rader, the State should implement, at a minimum, the following
remedial measures:

Ensure that youth are adequately protected from inappropriate sexual interaction
with staff and other youth.


Ensure that youth are adequately protected from physical violence committed by
staff and other youth.


Ensure that there are sufficient, adequately trained staff to safely supervise


Ensure that staff are adequately trained in safe restraint practices and that
restraints are used only in appropriate circumstances.


Ensure that staff adequately and promptly report incidents of violence and


Ensure that all incidents of violence, use of force, or serious injury are adequately
investigated and that appropriate personnel actions are taken in response to
substantiated findings.


Develop and implement adequate policies and procedures to ensure that youth
who are at risk of suicide and youth who are at risk of engaging in self-injurious
behavior are properly identified, supervised, and treated.


Develop and implement adequate policies and procedures to ensure that
medication is safely distributed and administered to youth.


Develop and implement adequate policies and procedures to prevent the
introduction of contraband into the facility.
- 15 -

* * * * * * * * * * *
I invite the State to discuss with us the remedial recommendations, with the goal
of remedying the identified deficiencies without resort to litigation. In the event that we
are unable to reach a resolution regarding our concerns, the Attorney General is
empowered to institute a lawsuit pursuant to CRIPA to correct deficiencies of the kind
identified in this letter, 49 days after appropriate officials have been notified of them. 42
U.S.C. § 1997b(a)(1).
We would prefer, however, to resolve this matter by working cooperatively with
you. We have every confidence that we will be able to do so in this case. The lawyers
assigned to this matter will contact your attorneys to discuss this matter in further detail.
If you have any questions regarding this letter, please call Shanetta Y. Cutlar, Chief of
the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section, at (202) 514-0195.
/s/ R. Alexander Acosta

R. Alexander Acosta
Assistant Attorney General


The Honorable Drew Edmondson
Oklahoma Attorney General
Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General
Charles N. Nobles


Board of Juvenile Affairs

Richard DeLaughter
Executive Director
Office of Juvenile Affairs
Jimmy Martin
L.E. Rader Center
The Honorable David E. O’Meilia

United States Attorney

Northern District of Oklahoma

- 16 -