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The US Department of Justice has opened an investigation into juvenile detention centers in Texas after receiving reports of physical and sexual abuse by staff members against children, the US Deputy Attorney General said on Wednesday. Civil Rights Officer, Kristen Clarke.

“Our investigation will focus on the existence of a pattern or practice of physical or sexual abuse of children in secure facilities in Texas,” Clarke said at a press conference.

“We will also investigate the existence of a pattern or practice of harm resulting from the excessive use of chemical restraint, excessive use of seclusion or lack of adequate mental health services,” said she declared.

This is the latest in a series of investigations into the systematic abuse that the Justice Department has launched in recent months in the country’s police departments and prisons, including an investigation into state prisons. of Georgia and others on the Minneapolis and Louisville Police Departments.

This is yet another legal escalation for the state of Texas, which also faces two civil lawsuits filed by the Department of Justice over the state’s blanket abortion ban and its decree restricting the movement of migrants.

Spokesmen for the Texas Department of Juvenile Justice did not immediately comment on the investigation.

The investigation, which will focus on five secure juvenile facilities statewide, was sparked by “a thorough review of publicly available information” as well as information provided by stakeholders, Clarke said.

For example, she said, at least 11 facility staff in Texas have been arrested for sexually abusing children in their care.

In addition, she reported other instances of misconduct, including reports that staff members paid children with drugs or money to molest other children.

In an incident last February, she said, staff allegedly “sprayed pepper on a child and placed him in full mechanical stress … then slammed him onto a bed.”