Court Orders Iowa to Limit Isolation and Restraints (Mar. 2020)

Disability Rights Iowa and Children’s Rights Inc. filed federal litigation against the State Training School for Boys in Eldora, saying that youth at the Training School are being denied legally required mental health services and punishing boys who have committed minor policy violations with solitary confinement inside “filthy, foul-smelling seclusion cells” for days without seeing a mental health professional.” In June 2019, mental health experts testified that the use of isolation could permanently harm young people.

In March 2020, the federal court ordered that the state to end the use of isolation and punishment and the use of “the wrap.” The order also requires:

  • “The wrap must” be removed within 10 days.
  • Iowa must submit a plan to remedy constitutional deficiencies linked with treatment of mental health within 45 days.
  • The school can only use seclusion (isolation) rooms in situations where youth behavior poses a serious and immediate risk of physical harm. Insubordination alone is not a sufficient reason to use isolation, and that a mental health professional must meet with youth put in isolation.
  • Youth on a unit that contains individual locked living units may not be restricted to their rooms as a denial of privileges.

Complaint G.R. v. Foxhaven (11/27/17)

Federal Order that Iowa End Punitive Isolation (3/30/20)

Litigation Against Iowa – Girls Kept in Isolation in WI Facility (Oct. 2019)

The state agreed to pay $700,000 to settle lawsuits filed by two young women were kept in isolation for 22-hours a day in Wisconsin’s Copper Lake facility. The Iowa Department of Human Services contracted with Wisconsin officials to house troubled Iowa girls after the 2014 closure of the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. That closure came after allegations that girls held there had been assaulted or locked in seclusion, sometimes for weeks or months on end. Iowa’s settlement is in addition to almost $4 million Wisconsin last year agreed to pay in separate lawsuits against Wisconsin.

Litigation Against Iowa DHS (2018)

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 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.