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Order issued in Iowa lawsuit over juvenile offender treatment

March 31, 2020 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A federal judge has ordered an Iowa state home for male juvenile offenders to stop the use of a physical restraining device and to reform its use of isolation as a form of punishment.

The ruling Monday came in a class-action lawsuit filed against the Boys State Training School in Eldora in 2017 by two advocacy groups, the Des Moines Register reported.


At issue is the use of an immobilizing device called “the wrap,” for nearly five hours at a time, in some cases. The lawsuit also targeted the facility’s use of solitary confinement that routinely forced boys — some suicidal and as young as 14 — into isolation for weeks at a time in filthy cells that contained only a sink, toilet and raised concrete platform with a thin mattress.

In her order, U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose described the use of the wrap as “torture,” and ordered its removal within 10 days. The state must also submit a plan within 45 days to remedy the boys’ mental health treatment, including safety plans for suicidal youths.

The school can only use seclusion rooms when a boy’s behavior poses a serious and immediate risk of physical harm, Rose said — not for insubordination alone.