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Case Name United States v. Marion Superior Court JI-IN-0007
Docket / Court 1:08-CV-0460-LJM-TAB ( S.D. Ind. )
State/Territory Indiana
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Case Summary
On April 9th, 2008, the United States filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The plaintiff sued the Marion Superior Court, which was responsible for operating the Marion Superior Court Juvenile Detention Center (MSCJDC), under the Violent Crime Control and ... read more >
On April 9th, 2008, the United States filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The plaintiff sued the Marion Superior Court, which was responsible for operating the Marion Superior Court Juvenile Detention Center (MSCJDC), under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, 42 U.S.C. §14141, the Rehabilitation Act, Section 504 of 29 U.S.C. §701, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §1400, for depriving youths detained in MSCJDC of their federal statutory and constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiff alleged that MSCJDC failed to ensure that youths were adequately protected from other youths, self-harm, unreasonable isolation practices, and unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and that youths with disabilities did not have access to required special education programs. The plaintiff sought injunctive and declaratory relief.

The lawsuit was borne out of an investigation of the MSCJDC by the Department of Justice (DOJ) pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997. In a findings letter, the DOJ reported that MSCJDC was deficient in safeguarding the rights of its youths in several ways. First, MSCJDC was inadequately protecting its youths from violence due to inadequate staffing and training on how to de-escalate violence, inadequate youth programming leading to increased boredom and violent tendencies, an inadequate behavior management program to reward positive behavior, and inadequate housing classification to separate youths based on levels of hostility or predatory behavior. Second, MSCJDC was excessively using isolation tactics as a form of punishment and behavior management. MSCJDC staff did not distinguish in their use of isolation to address serious, violent infractions or harmless disruptive behavior, did not provide youths in isolation with essential services such as medical care, education, or programming, and failed to exercise oversight of isolation, such as requiring supervisor review or giving notice to the youth. Third, MSCJDC was inadequately protecting its youths from suicide risks through inadequate mental health care, inadequate screening for suicidal tendencies, and inadequate staff training. Fourth, MSCJDC had inadequate systems of reporting and accountability, such as for reporting grievances, investigating child abuse allegations or staff misconduct, and maintaining accurate records of reports and investigations. Fifth, MSCJDC’s facilities were insufficiently safe for the youths, subjecting them to increased risks of fire hazards, lack of sanitation, chemical exposure, and injury. Finally, MSCJDC did not provide adequate special education support, both in screening for special education needs and providing programming and staffing.

The same day that the plaintiff filed the lawsuit, the plaintiff and defendants filed a joint motion for conditional dismissal. The parties agreed to a settlement agreement, laying out provisions for how to implement needed improvements in MSCJDC’s operation on each of the issues detailed in the findings letter. Specifically, to address protection of youths from violence, MSCJDC agreed to:
(1) ensure reasonably safe premises;

(2) increase staffing;

(3) develop and implement a training curriculum for staff on behavior management, de-escalation, use of force, communication, crisis intervention, child abuse reporting, and suicide prevention before working with youth;

(4) implement an annual staff training on use of force, suicide prevention, and child abuse reporting;

(5) minimize youth idle time by providing sufficient structured programming;

(6) create a behavior management program to reward positive social behavior; and

(7) create a housing classification system.

For excessive use of isolation tactics, MSCDJC agreed to, first, develop oversight procedures regarding the use of isolation, such as ensuring supervision and notice to youths, and second, ensure that youths in isolation have access to essential medical services and programming.

For suicide prevention, MSCJDC agreed to (1) conduct timely and accurate suicide risk assessments, (2) implement a gradual step-down suicide watch program, (3) provide mental health services and emergency equipment to prevent suicides, and (4) document all suicide precautions and attempts. For systems of reporting and accountability, MSCJDC agreed to create and implement systems for child abuse reporting, internal investigations of staff misconduct allegations, and youths filing grievances. For the conditions of the facilities, MSCJDC agreed to implement a fire safety program and to develop and implement chemical, general safety, and sanitation measures. Finally, for special education, MSCJDC agreed to screen and identify youths with special education needs, provide individualized education programs, and ensure access to educational services. Judge Larry J. McKinney granted this motion on April 11th, 2008. On May 28th, 2008, the parties appointed an Agreement Coordinator to enforce the settlement agreement.

On April 9th, 2011, the settlement agreement expired after the agreed upon three-year period. On April 19th, 2011, the parties jointly moved to dismiss the lawsuit, stating that the defendants had achieved substantial compliance with 25 out of 30 of the substantive provisions of the settlement agreement, and that the parties planned to continue working to resolve the remaining provisions in the next months. Because the parties agreed that judicial oversight was no longer required, the judge dismissed the lawsuit on May 2nd, 2011. This case is now closed.

Sarah Du - 11/22/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Reporting
Training
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
disability, unspecified
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Aggressive behavior
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Confinement/isolation
Disciplinary segregation
Education
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Fire safety
Grievance Procedures
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Juveniles
Over/Unlawful Detention
Record-keeping
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Suicide prevention
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Mental health care, general
Self-injurious behaviors
Suicide prevention
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 14141
Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Marion Superior Court
Plaintiff Description The United States Department of Justice
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Conditional Dismissal
Order Duration 2008 - 2011
Case Closing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Data examining the Department of Justice's civil rights investigations of local and state police departments
Marshall Project
Date: Jan. 17, 2017
By: Tom Meagher (Marshall Project)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Date: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
Date: 2014
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:08-cv-460 (S.D. Ind.)
JI-IN-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/02/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Findings Letter
JI-IN-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/06/2007
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Settlement Agreement Between the United States Department of Justice and the Marion Superior Court Concerning the Marion Superior Court Juvenile Detention Center
JI-IN-0007-0006.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/09/2008
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Complaint [ECF# 1]
JI-IN-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/09/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion for Conditional Dismissal [ECF# 5]
JI-IN-0007-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/09/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion for Order of Final Dismissal [ECF# 13]
JI-IN-0007-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/19/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order of Final Dismissal [ECF# 14] (S.D. Ind.)
JI-IN-0007-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/02/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Baker, Tim A. (S.D. Ind.) [Magistrate]
JI-IN-0007-9000
McKinney, Larry J. (S.D. Ind.)
JI-IN-0007-0005 | JI-IN-0007-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abbate, Julie K. (District of Columbia)
JI-IN-0007-0002 | JI-IN-0007-0003 | JI-IN-0007-9000
Becker, Grace Chung (District of Columbia)
JI-IN-0007-0002 | JI-IN-0007-0006
Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)
JI-IN-0007-0002 | JI-IN-0007-0006
Delaney, Joshua (District of Columbia)
JI-IN-0007-0002 | JI-IN-0007-0003 | JI-IN-0007-0004 | JI-IN-0007-0006 | JI-IN-0007-9000
Julian, Jill Z. (Indiana)
JI-IN-0007-0004 | JI-IN-0007-9000
Kim, Wan J. (District of Columbia)
JI-IN-0007-0001
Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)
JI-IN-0007-0004
Preston, Judith C. (District of Columbia)
JI-IN-0007-0002 | JI-IN-0007-0004 | JI-IN-0007-0006
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)
JI-IN-0007-0004
Zengler, Jill E. (Indiana)
JI-IN-0007-0002 | JI-IN-0007-0003
Defendant's Lawyers Haley, Jennifer (Indiana)
JI-IN-0007-0004
Mertz, Mark A. (Indiana)
JI-IN-0007-0003 | JI-IN-0007-0006 | JI-IN-0007-9000
Springer, Jennifer Lynn Haley (Indiana)
JI-IN-0007-9000

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