On May 19, 1994, boys and girls incarcerated at the Shawnee County Youth Center in Topeka, Kansas, filed a class action lawsuit against the county commissioners, the county director of the department of corrections, and the administrator of the Youth Center. The class named included present and future children at the Youth Center; the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas under 42 U.S.C § 1983. The plaintiffs alleged that the totality of the conditions violated the their constitutional rights and they asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief. The plaintiffs, represented by Kansas Legal Services and private counsel, sought to change the center's policies on medical and mental health treatment, education, visitation and mail, and access to lawyers. They also challenged the adequacy and training of the center's staff, the use of force against the juveniles, and the Center's overpopulation. (The plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint in June.)
On July 5, 1994, the Shawnee County defendants filed a third-party complaint against the Kansas Department of Rehabilitation Services. All of the parties involved agreed to enter a Joint Stipulation on Partial Settlement on July 26, 1994, to resolve the issues of isolation and restraint use, medical care and treatment, and attorney-client communication. The defendants agreed to use behavioral isolation for the shortest duration possible, not to exceed one hour unless the behavior problem continued, and only when residents were a threat to themselves or others. Physical restraint would be used only when a child acted in a dangerous manner, and not as a form of discipline or punishment. In addition, the defendants agreed to complete a health history assessment upon a child's admission to the Youth Center, and to provide medication and dental screenings. (Page 8 of the Stipulation, which contains specific provisions regarding attorney-client communications, is missing.) The court (Judge Dale E. Saffels) approved the Partial Settlement on August 2, 1994.
The parties continued to negotiate settlement of the Youth Center's overcrowding problems. On November 21, 1994, they entered into a Joint Stipulation of Partial Settlement, which the court (Judge Saffels) approved the same day. The Stipulation provided guidelines for the maximum number of children confined at the Youth Center: not to exceed 25, except in emergencies. The Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services agreed to remove any juvenile offender committed directly by a court to the Youth Center within 72 hours of placement and upon receipt of the necessary documents, excluding weekends and holidays. The Department also agreed to remove certain offenders within 48 hours, and children-in-need-of-care within 24 hours. Finally, the Stipulation created a Task Force to monitor the facility and to develop ways to expedite the movement of children through the court system.
The parties entered into a Consent Degree and Settlement Agreement, which the court (Judge Saffels) approved on July 28, 1995. The Consent Decree outlined policies to address most problems adduced in the Amended Complaint, including overcrowding; sanitation and safety; dress; the use of isolation and restraint; food service; mail and visitation; attorney-client communications; health care; the adequacy of staff; and education. The Consent Decree also provided for a monitor, Bruce Linhos, to ensure its implementation.
The court ruled on December 29, 1995, that the plaintiffs were entitled to recover attorney fees as the prevailing parties. T.Y. by Petty v. Bd. of Cty. Com'rs Shawnee Cty., 912 F. Supp. 1416 (D. Kan. 1995). Subsequent decision denying reconsideration, T.Y. by Petty v. Bd. of Cty. Com'rs, 926 F. Supp. 162 (D. Kan. 1996).
On November 21, 1995, the plaintiffs filed a motion for an order requiring the defendants to show cause why they should not be held in contempt for disobeying the Settlement Agreement and Consent Decree. They claimed that the defendants' policies regarding communications with the monitor made it impossible for a Youth Center resident to communicate with the monitor without the defendants' knowledge, which inhibited the residents' willingness to question compliance and destroyed confidentiality. The court (Judge Saffels), on January 17, 1996, issued a ruling requiring the defendants to change their policy regarding communications with the monitor, because that policy was neither negotiated by the parties nor approved by the court. However, the court denied the plaintiffs' motion for a contempt order, because they had not demonstrated that such a severe sanction was warranted at this time. T.Y. by Petty v. Bd. of Cty. Com'rs Shawnee Cty., 912 F. Supp. 1424 (D. Kan. 1996).
Our Pacer docket indicates that this case was closed in 1996.Kristen Sagar - 11/04/2007