The Associated Press reports that the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections (IDJC) is pushing to have all of its records — from juvenile offender files to personnel records — sealed from the public in the wake of a lawsuit filed by employees at a detention facility in Nampa, Idaho.
Last year, the group filed a federal suit, alleging employee fraud and inaction on the behalf of managers to rectify unsafe policies or reprimand juveniles for inappropriate contact with one another. The employees also allege that at the Nampa facility, several staffers had sex with underage residents.
The state’s Department of Juvenile Corrections recently asked the attorney of the employees that filed the suit to agree to a proposal that would keep the Department’s records confidential, even once the case is decided.
The IDJC has informed Andrew Schoppe, the attorney representing the suits’ plaintiffs, that it will release certain documents about sexual abuse policies and material related to reported incidents of sexual abuse at the facility. However, attorneys representing the IDJC have told Schoppe that it does not have documentation revealing whether the allegations were sent to the department’s overseer, the Board of Juvenile Corrections. Additionally, attorneys for the IDJC deny accusations that the Department falsified documents and hid reports detailing sexual abuse at the facility.
“As I see it, IDJC is basically seeking a ‘gag order’ that will prevent the plaintiffs from continuing to discuss the case with local media outlets, which have taken a very legitimate interest in the safety of the juveniles and staff at IDJC facilities statewide and in the operations of IDJC as a whole,” Schoppe told the AP. “However, this is a case against an agency of the State of Idaho and its public officials, and it is therefore inherently of interest to the public.”