On July 20, 1990, a class action lawsuit was filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of San Diego on behalf of all juveniles currently detained at the San Diego Juvenile Hall, against San Diego County, California, and county corrections ...
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On July 20, 1990, a class action lawsuit was filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of San Diego on behalf of all juveniles currently detained at the San Diego Juvenile Hall, against San Diego County, California, and county corrections personnel. The plaintiffs, represented by the A.C.L.U. Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties and the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, alleged that overcrowding at Juvenile Hall deprived detainees of their constitutional rights and violated state law. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief.
Because of overcrowding at Juvenile Hall, detainees were subject to long periods of lock-down. During lock-down, detainees did not have access to toilets, clean clothing, and adequate quantities of food. In addition, overcrowding exacerbated the inadequacy of medical treatment, mental health care, suicide prevention, educational opportunities, rehabilitative programming, and staff monitoring. As the result of space shortages, juveniles awaiting trial were confined with convicted juveniles in rooms housing more detainees then their capacity and convicted female juveniles were transferred daily from Juvenile Hall, where they slept, to day programs in a girls' facility.
On Oct. 12, 1992, the Superior Court of the State of California in and for San Diego County (Judge Robert J. O'Neill) held that the conditions at Juvenile Hall violated detainees' Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The court ordered the County (1) to abide by population caps and house no more than two juveniles in a single-occupancy room, (2) to ensure staff-to-minor ratios of 1:10 during waking hours and 1:30 at night, (3) to screen all juveniles for mental illnesses and offer responsive mental health treatment, (4) to educate and rehabilitate youths still detained at Juvenile Hall fifteen days or more after conviction and (5) to submit a long-term plan for increasing capacity to the court within forty-five days.
The First Division of the Fourth District of the California Court of Appeal (Judge Patricia D. Benke) reversed, remanded, and ordered judgment entered for the County. Keith G. v. Bilbray, 43 Cal. Rptr. 2d 277 (Cal. Ct. App. 1995) (depublished). The Court of Appeal held that a court could only find that juvenile detainees' rights were violated if there was substantial evidence of discrete deprivations. The Court of Appeal dismissed the trial court's eighty-nine pages of findings as speculative and not directly connected to constitutional violations.
The California Supreme Court granted the plaintiffs' petition for review. Keith G. v. Bilbray, 904 P.2d 372 (Cal. 1995). The Youth Law Center filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the plaintiffs, supporting the trial court's decision with precedent from other states. The California Supreme Court dismissed and remanded. Keith G. v. Bilbray, 912 P.2d 1147 (Cal. 1996). We have no record of further proceedings in this case.Elizabeth Chilcoat - 05/22/2006