Justice Department Finds that Manson Youth Institution Violates the U.S. Constitution and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act | OPA

The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division announced today that it has concluded an investigation into whether Manson Youth Institution is violating the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) with respect to children in the facility.

The department’s investigation concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that Manson’s isolation practices and inadequate mental health services seriously harm children, under age 18, and place them at substantial risk of serious harm. In addition, Manson fails to provide adequate special education services to children with disabilities. These violations are pursuant to a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights protected by the Constitution and federal law. 

“Children in adult correctional facilities do not forfeit their constitutional and federal rights,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our investigation uncovered systemic evidence that children are deprived of the mental health and special education services they need to become productive, successful adults. When children misbehave, Manson frequently subjects them to harmful periods of isolation, despite evidence that children are uniquely vulnerable to the traumatic and lasting damage isolation causes. The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting the constitutional rights of children in correctional facilities to ensure they have access to the resources these facilities are legally required to provide.”

The Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section initiated the investigation pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which together authorize the department to address a pattern or practice of deprivation of constitutional and federal rights of children confined to state or local government-run correctional facilities. Individuals with relevant information are encouraged to contact the department via phone at 1- 833-223-1565 or by email at Community.MYInstitution@USDOJ.GOV. 

The Civil Rights Division is committed to safeguarding the rights of children held in detention facilities across the country. For example, the division recently opened a statewide investigation of Texas’s secure juvenile facilities to examine whether Texas provides children confined in the facilities reasonable protection from physical and sexual abuse by staff and other residents, excessive use of chemical restraints and excessive use of isolation. The Texas investigation will also examine whether Texas provides adequate mental health care. In South Carolina, in another investigation involving a state juvenile justice facility, the division recently issued findings that the state fails to keep children reasonably safe from harm caused by punitive and excessive isolation, as well as harm inflicted by other children.

Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.

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