On May 16, 2008, the Attorney General, on behalf of the United States, filed suit against the state of Ohio, its governor, the director of youth services, and the superintendents of its juvenile correctional facilities pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 14141 for an alleged pattern or practice of violating the rights of juvenile detainees under the 14th Amendment, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400-1482, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 et seq.
The United States alleged that Ohio failed to protect the youth at its facilities from harm and undue risk of harm, failed to meet their medical and mental health needs, and failed to provide adequate special education services. The alleged harm and undue risk included unwarranted use of force and seclusion, and inadequate grievance and investigation procedures, while the alleged inadequacies of the health and education services were more total and included lack of dental care, and inadequate intake, screening, and treatment.
The facilities sued were Circleville Youth Center, Cuyahoga Hills Boys School, Indian River School, Marion Juvenile Correctional Center, Mohican Youth Center, Ohio River Valley Youth Center, Scioto Juvenile Correctional Center, and the Freedom Center. The suit was filed as a result of Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations into the conditions of confinement at the Scioto and Marion centers that began in 2005.
On June 12, 2008 in accordance with a joint motion of the parties, the Court (Judge Algenon L. Marbley) ordered the entry of a stipulation to injunctive relief for the Scioto and Marion centers and conditionally dismissed the claims against the other facilities. The other facilities were already under a stipulated injunction from the related case S.H. v. Stickrath
, linked below (Clearinghouse code: JI-OH-0004), so the claims were dismissed on the condition that the United States have access to all relevant Ohio Department of Youth Services (ODYS) policies, the monitor from the Stickrath
. The Independent Fact Finder's 214-page report
from that case contains useful background for the issues in this case. The Court entered the Stipulation for Injunctive Relief on June 24, 2008.
The injunction required Ohio to develop a wide variety of policies, procedures and practices to remedy the undue harm, inadequate medical and mental health care access, and inadequate special education services to which it subjected the juveniles detained in its facilities. In addition the injunction appointed a monitor to conduct investigations and report periodically on the state's compliance and required the state to train its employees, develop any additional documents or forms necessary to comply with the injunction, and to create and collect data to assess its performance. The terms of the injunction also guaranteed the Department of Justice access to the youth and staff at the Scioto and Marion centers and to all relevant records. Ohio had one year to revise its policies, training materials, and assessment tools so as to comply with the injunction, which was to last for three years or terminate early upon a showing of a year of substantial compliance.
Monitor Fred Cohen, who had acted as the monitor for both the S.H.
case and this case, resigned from monitoring duties only for this case on September 24, 2009. On December 15, 2009, the Court approved modification of the stipulation to provide a new monitoring scheme in which the DOJ acted as monitor through a team of experts. The modification also recognized that the injunction ceased to apply to the Marion facility, which had been closed.
On February 26, 2010, the Court ordered ODYS to develop a new meal policy that would ensure that it fed the juveniles committed to the facilities. ODYS had promulgated a protocol that said that youth who refused to go to the cafeteria would not receive a meal. It was applied inconsistently and appeared to deny food to those who refused out of fear. The issue led to a show cause hearing because of discrepancies in the summaries and data provided to the Court and to a subsequent order to submit a new policy.
By the consent of the parties, the Court amended the injunction on June 6, 2011, to remove many provisions. The monitoring section was redone, and the DOJ relinquished that role to a team of experts. Most notable was that the 3-year expiration clause was removed, making the injunction terminable only on a showing of substantial compliance for 2 reporting periods. The Court adopted a revised version of the injunction that reflected the 2 amendments in a single document on June 28, 2011.
On January 18, 2013, as a result of problems with the Progress Unit indicated in the Monitor's Third Report, the parties entered into a consent order that laid out a series of requirements meant to ensure that youth on the Progress Unit are not subjected excessive seclusion, that they receive structured programming, that they be screened to ensure they were not sent to the unit for symptoms of mental illness, and that they be given treatment plans that include reasonable goals designed to enable them to leave the unit. The order terminates only upon a showing of substantial compliance for six months.
The Monitor's Fourth Report and the First Status Report on Progress Unit were completed in 2013 and included an evaluation of the Scioto Facility. Both reports stated that Ohio was not in substantial compliance with the respective injunctions.
As a result of the State's inability to comply with the consent order, on March 12, 2014 the Department of Justice moved to supplement its original complaint by also including the state's use of unlawful seclusion at all of its juvenile correctional facilities. The court approved this motion on March 28, 2014 and DOJ filed a supplemental complaint on March 31, 2014. At the time that DOJ filed its supplemental complaint, it also sought a temporary restraining order to stem the state's seclusion of juveniles with mental health disorders.
The Department of Justice announced a final agreement with the State of Ohio on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. While Ohio is working to eventually eliminate disciplinary seclusion of youth, this agreement also includes interim measures that will be taken to ensure that the conditions under which seclusion is allowed and the duration of seclusion. The state will also reduce the potential harms caused by seclusion by increasing access to therapeutic, educational and recreational services while a young person is in seclusion.
On Feb. 11, 2015, the monitoring Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, issued a report
showing a dramatic decline in use of seclusion. Kenneth Gray - 06/28/2013
Megan Richardson - 06/15/2014