Order issued in Iowa lawsuit over juvenile offender treatment
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.
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.