SACRAMENTO (CN) - Probation officers at the Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility inflict cruel and unusual punishment on children for "no reason at all," a class action claims in Federal Court. Officers have broken children's bones and left permanent scars by slamming them into walls, a practice so common the officers have a nickname for it - "dipping."
The children say officers pick them up and slam them into walls and other solid surfaces for minor offenses. Sometimes officers dip them though they are lying facedown on the ground. "Many youth residents received scars and/or fractured or broken body parts due to 'dipping,'" the complaint states.
A child can be dipped for virtually anything, from lying down on a bed when asked to stand, or talking during lineups or movies. After officers slam them into walls, they often send kids holding cells, dressed only in underwear, and deny them blankets.
Plaintiff Brian Page says an officer injured his wrist when he "grabbed him by the neck, lifted him off the bed and threw him to the floor." The officer also put his knee into Page's back and twisted his wrist.
Plaintiff Brandon Flores says he saw probation staff mopping up blood after an officer slammed a kid's right eye into the floor. Flores says he saw an officer grab another child and "throw him several feet into the air." The officer then jumped on the kid, kneed him in the back and slammed his head into the ground.
The children sued the County of Sacramento, its Chief Probation Officer Vernon Speirs, and 13 other probation officers, all of them named in the complaint.
The class seeks compensatory and punitive damages for constitutional violations. They are represented by Mark Merin.
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