Iowa

Litigation Over Use of Solitary in Iowa

There is recent litigation in Iowa over the use of solitary confinement for youth. Two lawsuits have been filed against the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo for the use of solitary. A May 2018 article in the Des Moines Register describes the $175,000 settlement reached in the case of JaQuan Bradford against the Iowa Department of Human Services. According to legal documents in the case, JaQuan was held in solitary confinement for hundreds of days between the ages of 10 and 14. The Iowa Juvenile Home was closed by Governor Terry Branstad in January 2014 after reports of long-term solitary confinement and violation of special-education laws.

In addition to JaQuan Bradford’s recent settlement, the state of Iowa in 2015 paid Jessica Turner $235,000 to settle a separate lawsuit alleging she was wrongfully placed in solitary confinement at the Juvenile Home.

The State Training School for Boys in Eldora is also the focus of a federal lawsuit filed by Disability Rights Iowa and Children’s Rights Inc., a New York nonprofit. Plaintiffs in the case ask that Iowa DHS make broad changes in the way youth are treated at the facility.  They allege that youth at the Training School “are being denied legally required mental health services and boys who have committed minor policy violations are being punished with solitary confinement by being placed inside “filthy, foul-smelling seclusion cells” for days without seeing a mental health professional.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three juveniles at the facility, but Disability Rights staff report that they will seek class-action status.