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Department of Justice attorneys investigating allegations of abuse at Santa Clara County’s juvenile hall are coming back a second time to look into dozens of additional complaints, County Counsel Ann Ravel said Tuesday. Attorneys with the DOJ’s Washington, D.C.-based civil rights unit first toured the court-managed juvenile hall last April to investigate 25 reports of teen boys allegedly suffering beatings and broken bones at the hands of probation department counselors. Main Justice is expected to release a report outlining its findings. But Ravel said Justice Department attorneys notified her earlier this month that they need to conduct additional investigations first. Ravel said that since April the Justice Department has received two to three new complaints per week. DOJ officials said they could only confirm that the investigation remains open. “They could not issue a decision without investigating these additional complaints,” said Ravel, “because there have been so many.” Juvenile Hall is run by the probation department, which is in turn managed by the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Raymond Davilla Jr., the supervising juvenile judge, said he was aware of the new allegations. “I have followed up, I’m satisifed the proper action is being taken by the probation department,” Davilla said, including advising parents and teens how to file complaints. Ravel said the DOJ has promised to supply her with details on the new complaints by today. She said her office had already received specifics on the batch of complaints investigated in April, but she declined to release them, citing juvenile privacy laws. The DOJ visit will come just weeks before Santa Clara voters are asked to wrench control of the probation department and juvenile hall from the Santa Clara County Superior Court judges and hand it to the Board of Supervisors. County supervisors, who’ve been pressured to do something about ongoing problems at juvenile hall, placed the measure on the March ballot. Currently, judges hire and fire the probation chief and set policy, but funding comes from the county. Ravel has complained that the county faces liability for problems but doesn’t have the control it needs to fix those problems or ferret out abusive employees. An independent examination of juvenile hall practices and procedures, commissioned by Ravel earlier this year, found no evidence of systemic abuse. But it concluded the facility was run too much like a jail and recommended a complete culture change. But the March ballot measure has chilled relations between the court and county. Judges say the ballot measure undermines any chance at cooperation. Monday marked the first day of work for interim probation chief Ann Clarke. Clarke, who had retired from the department in 2002, was hired by the court to replace the long-time probation chief, John Cavalli, who retired earlier this month. But the county has so far refused to give the court the $50,000 it requested to conduct a national search for a permanent replacement. “I am not surprised the county is reluctant to do so,” said Presiding Judge Thomas Hansen. “They want to choose their own.” The DOJ’s visit, now planned for February, will trail a recent spike in teen-on-teen violence at the hall. “We had an increased number of incidents of a variety of kinds a few months back,” Clarke said Tuesday. “In detention management, there are ups and downs in the climate.” Clarke declined to provide statistics on the uptick in violence and refused to speculate on whether it might account for the second DOJ visit. But she said the situation is now under control. “There’s been a number of fights,” said Deputy Public Defender Kevin Rudich, who handles juvenile cases. “There were some prosecutions which arose out of some of those fights, but it’s been pretty quiet recently.”

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