On April 22, 1981, juveniles confined in Lawrence County Jail in Ironton, Ohio filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1988 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against a juvenile court judge, county commissioners, the sheriff of Lawrence County, and ...
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On April 22, 1981, juveniles confined in Lawrence County Jail in Ironton, Ohio filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1988 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against a juvenile court judge, county commissioners, the sheriff of Lawrence County, and Lawrence County. The class consisted of all juveniles who were, had been since January 1979, and would be confined in Lawrence County Jail. The plaintiff, who was represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants subjected them to cruel, unconscionable, and illegal conditions of confinement; abuses of judicial authority; illegal incarceration without adequate separation from confined adult offenders; unlawful secure detention of "status offenders"; denial of appropriate alternative placements; and false imprisonment. The plaintiffs further alleged that these conditions violated the guarantees under the Fourteenth Amendment of due process, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, freedom of association, free exercise of religion, privacy, and rehabilitation in the least restrictive setting.
The Lawrence County jail was used to confine both adult and juvenile offenders, but did not adequately separate the adult and juvenile offenders. The defendants failed to provide plaintiffs with personal hygiene supplies, failed to provide opportunities for exercise or recreation, and did not allow sufficient family visitation, or attorney visitation. Futhermore, defendants failed to provide adequate medical or mental health screening and services. The staff at the jail was not trained to identify and respond to problems of juveniles.
The Juvenile Court Judge of Lawrence County allegedly subjects plaintiffs to arbitrary and capricious abuses of judicial authority. Juveniles who were charged with status offenses were improperly confined in the Lawrence County Jail. The juvenile court judge ordered that needed medical care and medication be denied, that visitation from parents or relatives be denied, denied detention hearings, threatened to confine and detain juveniles unless they left Lawrence County permanently, threatened to arrest juveniles without probable cause if they appeared in Ironton, and placed juveniles in programs in other states when appropriate placements were available in Ohio.
On March 25, 1982, the District Court (Judge S. Arthur Spiegel) denied the Sheriff of Lawrence County's motion for summary judgment, on the grounds that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the sheriff was grossly negligent in his supervisory position. Doe v. Burwell, 537 F. Supp. 186 (S.D. Ohio 1982).
In April 1982, the District Court (Judge Spiegel) entered a consent judgment, which required the defendants to cease using the Lawrence County Jail for any and all juveniles, and provide plaintiffs' counsel with monthly reports for a year on all juveniles appearing before the juvenile court and their place of detention. Kaitlin Corkran - 05/22/2006