In 1981, six juveniles held in the La Crosse County Jail, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the County of La Crosse in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief, alleging deficiencies in the operation of the jail that were violative of their constitutional rights.
On March 29, 1982, the District Court (Judge Barbara B. Crabb) approved a consent decree. The consent decree detailed protocols for (1) intake and booking, (2) separation and overcrowding, (3) supervision and monitoring, (4) medical and mental health, (5) hygiene and nutrition, (6) visitation, (7) telephone access, (8) mail access, (9) rules, discipline, and control, (10) recreation and exercise, (11) education, (12) transportation, (13) training, and (14) grievances.
Specifically, the consent decree required that: (1) during intake and booking juveniles had to be thoroughly screened for medical and mental health conditions, given an opportunity to call an attorney and relatives, and provided with a summary of rules and policies; (2) juveniles had to be separated from the sight and sound of adult inmates, and could not be held in a cell or block in excess of its designed capacity; (3) the sheriff had to ensure adequate staff, equipment, and physical layout enabled adequate supervision, including frequent inner block checks and maintenance of a log book; (4) frequent medical and mental health exams had to be given and treatment provided; (5) juveniles had to be given sundries, regularly washed bedding, and nutritional meals; (6) private visitation had to be allowed daily; (7) telephone access had to remain uncensored and unmonitored; (8) mail had to remain sealed and uninspected; (9) notice of the rules had to be provided to all residents and no corporal or mental abuse could be employed as punishment; (10) time had to be provided for recreation and exercise, and reading material, television and radio had to be provided; (11) during the school year, social workers had to arrange for certified teachers to provide instruction; (12) physical constraints could not be used during transport of juveniles, apart from certain exceptions, and separation policies had to remain in effect; (13) staff had to receive a specified number of training hours, and records had to be kept; and (14) the jail had to maintain a grievance procedure to provide an orderly, fair, simple, and expeditious method of resolving grievances.
The consent decree further ordered that the County Personnel and Safety Supervisor would act as a compliance officer, and that, for five years, an independent compliance monitor would monitor the enforcement of the order by visiting and inspecting the jail, interviewing juveniles and officials, inspecting records and other actions deemed necessary.
Under the consent decree, the defendants agreed to compensate the plaintiffs' for $3,500, setting a schedule of payment to each named plaintiff, and pay $6,500 in attorneys' fees and costs.
Because we have only the consent decree, we have no more information on this file.Josh Altman - 05/24/2006