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Juvenile Litigation with Respect to Institutional Confinement Facilities

There are many juveniles that are confined to public and private institutions. Many of the institutions have deplorable conditions. Juveniles are often held in dingy cells or small, dark rooms and are confined for hours, days, or weeks. Often times juveniles are deprived of exercise, recreational activities, and schooling. Sometimes juveniles are even supervised by untrained or inadequate staff as well.

Juveniles may file a civil rights action against the institutional facility if the juvenile feels he has been deprived of a civil right. An alternative and often a precursor to filing a legal action against the facility is an administrative route. If the juvenile believes that the institutional facility deprived him of a civil right, the juvenile may seek an administrative hearing within the facility or may choose to contact the overseeing agency in the state. Often times hearings will take place and a mini trial will occur. However, if the juvenile exhausts his administrative remedies or administrative relief is not proper given the facts of the case, the juvenile may file a lawsuit for damages against the institutional facility.

Investigation of the Institutional Facility

Prior to filing the lawsuit, an investigation of the institutional facility should occur. The juvenile should obtain the services of an expert in juvenile facilities to assist in the inspection of the institutional facility. An independent view regarding the conditions of the institutional facility is helpful and may be necessary for litigation purposes.

Types of Relief

If the juvenile does file a lawsuit against the institutional facility, generally the juvenile may seek damages, injunctive relief, or both. If the juvenile sustained severe physical or mental injuries while in the institutional facility, he may be entitled to relief in the form of damages. The juvenile may also request injunctive relief. Typically this type of relief is sought when the juvenile seeks to change a policy or rule in the institutional facility claiming that it violated his civil rights.