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FBI opens inquiry into beatings of CYA wards

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Posted: Friday, April 30, 2004 10:00 pm

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened an investigation into the beatings at the California Youth Authority facility in Stockton in January.

Karen Ernst, FBI special agent, said the agency is looking into civil rights violations but would not say who the agency is investigating.

Videotape footage shows a January incident where several correctional officers are beating two wards at the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton.

The FBI's involvement into the beatings is the first law enforcement investigation into those involved in the January incident. The San Joaquin District Attorney's Office and the state attorney general decided not to file charges against anyone involved.

On Jan. 20, the two wards, Vincent Baker, 19 of Stockton, and Narcisco Morales, 21, of Oakhurst were beaten by Chaderjian correctional officers, according to a videotape released by state Sen. Gloria Romero's office.

The beatings and the subsequent statements by the correctional officers involved prompted Romero, chair of the senate's Correctional System Committee, to push for dismantling the CYA and creating a new program to take its place.

Ernst said after the FBI's investigation, the FBI will hand over its results to the U.S. Attorney General's Office to decide if there's enough evidence for prosecution.

Jim Willet, deputy district attorney for San Joaquin County, said the FBI's investigation is different from what his office was seeking.

The district attorney chose not to file criminal charges against the CYA officers. The FBI's probe is civil.

The district attorney did send over their material to the U.S. Attorney, Willet said.

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