The Youth Accountability Team (YAT) program was created in 2001 in Riverside County to target at-risk youths for intervention. But YAT treats children who have not been convicted of crimes like hardened criminals with surprise searches, unannounced home visitations, strict restrictions on who participants can speak to, curfews, and interrogations into intimate details of their lives. It’s a program far more likely to be applied to youths of color.
YAT is not just oppressive, it’s unconstitutional.
On Sunday, a class action lawsuit was filed against Riverside County, which oversees the YAT program and funnels millions of taxpayer dollars into it, by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation; ACLU SoCal; ACLU NorCal; ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties; the law firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP; and the National Center for Youth Law.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Riverside on behalf of three students and the non-profit mentoring organization Sigma Beta Xi that works with local youths of color. It asks that the YAT program be forced to adhere to the U.S. Constitution’s due process clause and California state Constitution provisions.