Sometime before 1982, children confined in the Columbia County Correctional Facility (CCCF), an adult jail in St. Helens, Oregon, filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Columbia County Juvenile Department in the U. S. District Court for the District of Oregon. The ...
read more >
Sometime before 1982, children confined in the Columbia County Correctional Facility (CCCF), an adult jail in St. Helens, Oregon, filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Columbia County Juvenile Department in the U. S. District Court for the District of Oregon. The plaintiffs, represented by the Juvenile Rights Project of Oregon Legal Services and the National Center for Youth Law, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the constitutional rights of plaintiffs and members of the plaintiff class had been violated by confining them in CCCF. Specifically, the plaintiffs contended that the conditions and restrictions constituted punishment and thereby violated plaintiffs' rights as pretrial detainees not to be punished under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. Among other things, the plaintiffs alleged that CCCF housed both adults and children at the same facility, and some children were within the sight and sound of adult inmates; children slept on mattresses covered with urethane or on concrete floors; female children were not advised that sanitary napkins were available; children had no private bathroom facilities; special dietary needs of children were not considered; and, there was no emergency medical health service.
The facility had been investigated before for similar problems. In January, 1980, a Columbia County Circuit Judge appointed a Special Grand Jury to investigate the jail. In May, 1980, the Grand jury found numerous deficiencies in CCCF and recommended that children not be kept in CCCF until these conditions were remedied. The United States Marshals Service subsequently discontinued placement of federal prisoners in CCCF.
After a trial from February 2-12, 1982, on August 6, 1982, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon (Judge Helen Frye) held that conditions at CCCF were unconstitutional, found that plaintiffs were entitled to a permanent injunction and reasonable attorneys' fees and ordered plaintiffs' counsel to submit a proposed judgment order. D.B. v. Tewksbury, 545 F. Supp. 896 (D. Or. 1982). With respect to pretrial detainees and status offenders, Judge Frye held that "confinement of child pretrial detainees in CCCF as it now exists is punishment prior to an adjudication of guilt," and that "confinement of plaintiffs and plaintiffs' class in any adult jail constitutes punishment per se and is therefore unconstitutional." With respect to children confined after having been accused of committing crimes, Judge Frye relied on the "fundamental fairness" doctrine holding that "when the denial of constitutional rights for children is not offset by a special solicitude but by lodging them in adult jails, it is fundamentally unfair."
Because we have only the district court decision, we have no further information on this case.Kristen Sagar - 11/13/2007