On December 16, 1977, a juvenile at the Montgomery County Youth Center filed a class action lawsuit against the county and the State of Pennsylvania in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs, represented by the Juvenile ...
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On December 16, 1977, a juvenile at the Montgomery County Youth Center filed a class action lawsuit against the county and the State of Pennsylvania in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs, represented by the Juvenile Law Center of Philadelphia, sought declaratory and injunctive relief and damages alleging that defendants' use of isolation as a form of punishment violated the juveniles' constitutional rights. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that there were no guidelines or limits on the use of isolation, isolation was punitive and anti-therapeutic, and defendants' failure to provide a hearing either before or after isolation violated the juveniles' rights to due process. Plaintiff also challenged other restrictions imposed on juveniles residing at the Youth Center including mail censorship, denial of education programming, and intercom monitoring.
On June 21, 1978, the district court (Judge John B. Hannum) denied defendants' motion to dismiss and certified plaintiffs' class to include all past, present, and future residents of the Montgomery County Youth Center. On February 1, 1981, the plaintiffs and the county defendants entered into a consent decree where the parties agreed that defendants would limit the use of punitive isolation; train staff in alternative methods of controlling juveniles' behavior; and provide juveniles with a handbook detailing their rights, the Youth Center's expectations, and grievance procedures. The parties further agreed to allow juveniles access to mail services and not to read the juveniles' incoming mail. The parties also agreed that defendants would inform the juveniles about the intercom system and not secretly monitor them. In March of 1981, plaintiffs and the state defendants entered into a voluntary stipulation of dismissal. Defendants had promulgated new rules and also agreed to provide attorneys for plaintiffs with records and documents detention center regulations since the complaint was filed, and defendants concerning the use of punitive isolation in the Youth Center.
On March 25, 1981, the parties entered a joint memorandum in support of the proposed settlement. On March 27, 1981 the district court (Judge Hannum) approved both the consent decree and the stipulation for voluntary dismissal. We have no further information on this case.Emilee Baker - 05/24/2006