LRC and partners call on Hennepin County to immediately end the practice of placing children in correctional facilities, as well as for an immediate court review for every child currently confined in a correctional facility
On May 1, 2020 16-year-old Cornelius Frederick died after being restrained for throwing a sandwich at Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a youth correctional facility run by the for-profit Sequel facility management corporation. We have now learned that an autopsy confirmed that Cornelius died as a result of asphyxiation during the restraint. Several children from Hennepin County were confined at Lakeside Academy when Cornelius was killed. In fact, Hennepin County frequently placed children at Lakeside Academy on juvenile delinquency matters, despite a publicly documented history of violations substantiated by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Although Hennepin County has since removed all children from this facility, this response is not sufficient.
Cornelius Frederick should be alive today. His death at the hands of staff at a youth correctional facility must be a wake-up call for Hennepin County juvenile justice stakeholders at all decision points – from pre-arrest to post-disposition. George Floyd was restrained, asphyxiated, and murdered by Minneapolis police officers for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill. Cornelius Frederick threw a sandwich at a youth correctional facility. Every child currently placed in a correctional facility is at imminent risk. Hennepin County cannot allow this to continue.
It is well past time to end the detrimental practice of removing our children from our communities and confining them in correctional facilities under the pretense of providing therapeutic treatment. Cornelius Frederick’s death is not an isolated tragedy of one child in one facility, but an extreme manifestation of the unsafe circumstances that children commonly experience when removed from their homes by the juvenile justice system. Children in correctional facilities are routinely subjected to maltreatment through bullying, inappropriate restraint, and other forms of physical abuse. Many children end up cycling through multiple correctional facilities, pointing to a very basic failure in their stated purpose.
The National Lawyers Guild and Legal Rights Center's Legal Support Line will stop being staffed on June 13, 2020 until the need arises again. If you need protest-related legal assistance, please leave a voicemail for the National Lawyers Guild at 612-444-2654 and we will follow up. Give us a call if you also anticipate the Legal Support Line may need to be activated again for future actions. For other legal needs, check out the following numbers for partner organizations in the Twin Cities.
The Legal Rights Center is Providing Ongoing Legal Workshops to Volunteer Lawyers and Law Students who are then taking this Information to Protesters at Actions around the Metro Area
The Legal Rights Center is heading up an effort to get more legal information to protesters and the public regarding their rights related to curfew, protesting, how best to protect their rights when interacting with police and other important legal topics. A growing list of more than fifty local volunteer lawyers and law students have expressed interest and begun to attend workshops to become Know Your Rights Trainers for protesters and the public. Know Your Rights Trainers are then distilling the most pertinent information into quick five to ten minute presentations for protesters. Trainers are also handing out flyers with this information in print, as well as providing resources if protesters are cited and/or arrested. Trainers are easily identifiable at protests - just look for the bright yellow trainer shirts below.
The Legal Rights Center and ACLU of Minnesota support new charges filed by AG Ellison, while continuing to call for an independent prosecution not associated with the Hennepin County Attorney's Office
The Legal Rights Center and American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota are grateful to Attorney General Keith Ellison for filing stronger and legally justified charges against former officer Derek Chauvin, and for bringing charges against all of the officers involved in the murder of George Floyd.
The Attorney General Wednesday filed second-degree murder charges against former Minneapolis Police Officer Chauvin, and aiding and abetting second-degree murder against the other three officers, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Keung and Tou Thao.
The LRC and ACLU-MN believe strongly that the higher charges against Chauvin and the charges against the other three officers are legally justified and necessary. It’s important to note that aiding and abetting second-degree murder is a very serious charge that carries the same potential sentence as second-degree murder. It considers the three officers to be as legally culpable as Chauvin.
The ACLU-MN and Legal Rights Center had called on the Governor to appoint the Attorney General. The initial third-degree murder charge brought against Chauvin by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office was grossly inadequate, and the lack of charges against any of the other officers was inexcusable.
We continue to call for an independent prosecution housed in the Attorney General’s Office not associated with the Hennepin County Prosecutor’s Office.
We will continue working for justice for George Floyd, and rooting out racism in our policing and criminal-legal system.
LRC staff include attorneys and advocates from a range of background and lived experiences.
The Legal Rights Center
1611 Park Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55404
P: 612-337-0030 F: 612-337-0797
The Legal Rights Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit financially supported by: the State of Minnesota, foundations, local law firms, corporations and individuals. Clients are never charged for our services.