On September 27, 1993, juveniles detained at juvenile detention centers in Connecticut filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. The plaintiffs filed under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 5633, 20 U.S.C. § 1401 et seq., § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and 29 U.S.C. § 794, against the state of Connecticut, in addition to various court administrators, detention centers and agencies. The class was composed of all present and future juveniles in the care, custody or supervision of the detention centers. The Jerome L. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School, the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Center for Children's Advocacy, Inc. at the University of Connecticut School of Law, and the Center for Public Representation represented the class. The plaintiffs sought injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment, alleging that the state failed to provide for juvenile detainees adequate living conditions, recreational opportunities, staffing, rehabilitative treatment, classification, evaluation, and alternative placements. Additionally, they alleged that the state failed to adopt and implement policies to provide adequate medical and mental health services, failed to provide students with an appropriate public education, and interfered with the juvenile detainees' access to their families and attorneys. They alleged that these conditions of confinement violated rights guaranteed by the First, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (Our copy of the complaint is missing alternate pages.)
The juvenile detention centers in Connecticut were overcrowded and single occupancy rooms were often used to house several children, which in at least one instance resulted in the sexual assault of a handicapped child. The juveniles were subjected to excessive confinement often without access to bathroom facilities, which sometimes resulted in them urinating on themselves and being left in soiled clothing for extended periods of time. The juveniles were not provided with enough food and food was often withheld as punishment. There were inadequate medical and mental health services. The staff of the juvenile facilities were generally under-qualified, inexperienced, and had inappropriate training. The family and attorney visitation allowed was limited and insufficient. The education provided was generally inadequate in that the instruction time was insufficient, and there was insufficient space to accommodate a meaningful instruction program. Specifically, the education provided was inadequate for special needs children. The state also failed to seek alternative and less-restrictive placements for juveniles. Children were detained on minor charges simply because their families could not be located or were unwilling to care for the children. The detention centers were used as "warehouses" for children the Department of Children and Families could not find placement for, or to hold them until placement was found.
On February 6, 1997, the District Court (Judge Robert N. Chatigny) approved a consent judgment, the details of which we have no information about. On April 15, 2002, an order extending the consent judgment to June 24, 2002, was entered by the District Court. On August 12, 2002, a stipulated agreement was substituted for the original consent judgment in recognition of the accomplishment of many of the original goals. We have no information about the specifics of the stipulated agreement regarding non-mental health issues. On June 24, 2004, the District Court ordered the parties to enter into a Joint Corrective Action Plan "to ensure that the constitutional rights of class members to adequate mental health services are safeguarded, and that the Defendants' obligations thereunder are fully satisfied."
After a fairness hearing on July 8, 2005, the court approved a settlement agreement directed towards improving the provisions of mental health services to class members. The agreement is effective until September 30, 2007. The intent behind the agreement was to increase the number of class members diverted from residential placements. The settlement required the state to provide and fund multidimensional treatment foster care facilities. These placements would provide structured, individualized programs to help build on the class member's strengths, while providing clear rules, expectations, and limits. Furthermore, the settlement required access to discretionary funding, community-based services and programs, and the development of a 1.5 level group home, which provided therapeutic community living intended to serve adolescents with minimal-to-moderate behavioral disorders.
On November 17, 2005, the defendants agreed to pay the plaintiffs roughly $51,000 in attorneys fees. On December 6, 2006, the defendants agreed to pay the plaintiffs an additional $18,500 in attorneys fees.
On April 20, 2007, the plaintiffs sent a letter of non-compliance to the court monitor. On September 14, 2007, the plaintiffs agreed to withdraw their letter on the condition that the defendants signed a memorandum of agreement extending the settlement agreement to September 30, 2009. However, on September 30, 2007, the governor of Connecticut issued a press release
stating that the case was closed by federal order. This order is not reflected on the case's docket sheet.
However, there have been only two docket entries since September 28, 2007. In January 2008, the court ordered the defendants reimburse the monitor for work done through August 2007. And, on January 22, 2008, the defendants agreed to pay the plaintiffs an additional $21,000 in attorneys fees. It would appear that the case is closed.Kaitlin Corkran - 10/17/2005
Jessica Kincaid - 02/13/2016