Juvenile Law Center

Ending Solitary Confinement|Juvenile and Criminal Justice

J.J. v. Litscher

Juvenile Law Center, with co-counsel ACLU of Wisconsin and Quarles & Brady, LLP, filed a federal civil rights class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin against Wisconsin juvenile corrections officials and administrators of two correctional facilitates, the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls.

Collectively, the facilities hold approximately 165-180 boys and girls. Most are African-American youth from Milwaukee, which is 215 miles away from the facilities. Both facilities excessively use solitary confinement, restraints, and pepper spray on youth.

Approximately 15-20% of the youth population in these facilities are in solitary confinement, isolated for 22 to 23 hours per day in a seven by ten-foot cell. Youth are often sent to solitary for 30 to 60 days at a time, and many are forced to spend their one free hour outside of solitary “on the belt,” meaning that they are in handcuffs attached to a belt. Often they are also chained to a table. While in solitary, youth only get one hour of education per day and are even denied therapeutic programs that are supposed to help rehabilitate them. Officers at these facilities routinely use “Bear Mace” and other pepper sprays on youth for nonviolent infractions. The burning and temporary blindness can last for days, and guards fail to appropriately help youth who have been pepper sprayed.

These practices are serious violations of the youth’s constitutional rights, including their rights to substantive due process, as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and their right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, as guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment.

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Further Reading

"ACLU of Wisconsin and Juvenile Law Center Sue Over Alleged Inhumane Treatment in Juvenile Detention Centers," Emma Sarran Webster, Teen Vogue, 1/25/2017

"Wisconsin Juvenile Facilities Sued by Juvenile Law Center, State ACLU Over Solitary Confinement," John Holland, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, 1/24/2017

Details

Case Number
17-CV-47
Type
Direct
Date
January 23, 2017
Court
United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin
State of Origin
Wisconsin

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