"Institutional Fail"
SVU, Episode 17.04
Production number: 17004
First aired: 7 October 2015
  th of 476 produced in SVU  
th of 476 released in SVU
  th of 1229 released in all  
Teleplay By
Julie Martin & Brianna Yellen

Story By
Samantha Corbin-Miller

Directed By
Martha Mitchell


A starving toddler found wandering the streets alone leads detectives to the home of Manuela Ozuna and another child in grave condition. The police question Department of Child Services caseworker Keith Musio, whose vague and backdated reports on the family suggest he hadn't checked on the children in months. When the overworked Keith accuses his supervisor, Janette Grayson, of orchestrating the false reports, Chief Dodds promises to conduct an internal investigation. But when neglect leads to death, Barba takes matters into his own hands and arrests them for manslaughter. Meanwhile, Dodds indicates some changes coming to Benson's squad.


Episode summary


Main Cast

Recurring Cast

Guest Cast


Episode references


Barba: Are you the most incompetent manager in the world who can't tell the difference between a false report and a legitimate one? Or did you instruct case workers to falsify reports to meet productivity goals?
D'Angelo: Objection! Badgering!
Judge Defecco: I'll allow. The witness will answer.
Barba: So which is it, Miss Grayson?
Janette: I didn't want any of this to happen.
Barba: You didn't want to advance your career by ignoring innocent children's pain and death, or you didn't wanna get caught?
D'Angelo: Objection!
Janette: I'm asked to do what the courts can't do. What the cops can't do.
Barba: You are asked to do your job!
Janette: Oh! GOD himself could not do this job!
D'Angelo: We need a recess, your honor.
Janette: You wanna judge me? You wouldn't last an hour in my world. And if I go, who's gonna be on the front lines? [points at Barba] You?! [points at the judge] You?!
D'Angelo: Your honor!
Janette: I mean, you dump the most hapless cases in the world on us every day! More and more! We get the dregs of humanity, children raised by WOLVES! And you see them come in this court in and out, week in and week out. They come to you as criminals. Do ya ever stop to think: "Gee, what happened before that?"?
Judge Defecco: Miss Grayson, do you need a break?
Janette: Oh! Now you wanna gimme a break? After 25 years of "Make your quota, Janette!" "Push that paper!" "Hit those numbers!" Right, Matt? Right? It's impossible! And everybody knows it. You all know it. But you wanna scapegoat me. You wanna make me feel bad. You wanna take me down so you can feel better about yourselves. See? 'Cause you pretended like you don't know that there are poor people out there in the city. Broken people. You don't turn away from the homeless guy on the subway? 'Course you do. Everybody does, 'cause it's too much. You wanna put me in jail for this? Look in the mirror, my friend. Look in the damn mirror.

Background information and notes

Background info.

Episode scene cards

1 2 3 4

Conyers Houses
369 West 126th Street
Friday, August 7

Department of
Child Services
108 Fulton Street
Friday, August 7

3169 Broadway
Friday, August 7

Office of
Deputy Commissioner for
Public Information
One Police Plaza
Monday, August 10

5 6 7 8

Office of
District Attorney
1 Hogan Place
Tuesday, August 11

St. Michael's Hospital
715 West 173rd Street
Thursday, August 13

Supreme Court
Part 19
Friday, August 14

Rikers Island
Correctional Facility
Sunday, August 16

Previous episode:
"Transgender Bridge"
"Institutional Fail"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 17
Next episode:
"Community Policing"
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