Maricopa County prosecutors in Arizona are considering potential criminal charges after reviewing footage of children being dragged, hit, and shoved by staff members at a detention center near Phoenix.
On Monday, the prosecutors received a report documenting an investigation into the alleged abuse after videos, first published by the Arizona Republic, provoked outrage.
Released to the public over the weekend, the footage showed at least three children being dragged and shoved by staff members at Hacienda del Sol in Youngtown in mid-September, a month before the detention center was closed.
One video showed a staff member pulling a child into a room and then shoving and hitting the child, while other videos showed staffers dragging two other children. County officials said Monday that the footage was being examined as evidence of potential “child abuse and assault.”
Hacienda del Sol was one of several detention facilities run by Southwest Key, an organization that has won $1.7 billion in federal grants in the past decade, including more than $600 million in 2018 for detaining minors who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border without parents or guardians, as well as children who have been forcibly separated from their parents by the Trump administration.
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The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department previously said last week that the videos did not raise alarm over possible criminal violations, but Sheriff Paul Penzone said Monday that prosecutors were now determining “if all aspects of the potential allegations were thoroughly investigated.”