Children’s Rights (CR) and Disability Rights Iowa (DRI) filed C.P.X. v. Foxhoven against the director of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), Jerry Foxhoven; the administrator of the Division of Mental Health and Disability Services, Richard Shults; and the superintendent of the Boys State Training School, Mark Day. The lawsuit is being brought on behalf of all children confined to the Boys State Training School now or in the future and who have significant mental illnesses.
CR and DRI assert that these boys, aged 12 to 19, do not receive the mental health treatment needed to fulfill the facility’s mission of providing “a program which focuses on appropriate developmental skills, treatment, placements and rehabilitation.” Instead of providing necessary mental health treatment, workers at Eldora, as it is known, rely heavily on potentially harmful psychotropic medications administered without appropriate oversight or consent—as well as solitary confinement and a full-body mechanical restraint—to control youth who typically have not been convicted of any crime. For example, children with mental illnesses have been placed in solitary confinement for raising their voices, arguing with other children, talking while taking a shower and failing to clean up.
CR and DRI assert violations of Plaintiffs’ right to substantive due process as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; their right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, as guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; and their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. They are seeking a court order to prevent policies and practices that violate their constitutional and federal statutory rights.
R., one of several named plaintiffs, is a 16-year-old boy who needs intensive therapy with a licensed practitioner. Instead, R. is receiving brief telephonic “sessions” that don’t follow recommendations. He has been given at least six psychotropic medications since June 2016, without appropriate controls or consent and has been placed on suicide watch at least 27 times. R. was restrained for 77.53 hours in a seven-month period—including 67 hours in the full body restraint.
S., another 16-year-old boy, has been diagnosed with a number of conditions and has reported auditory hallucinations. S. has been placed on suicide watch several times after harming himself while in solitary confinement, but is consistently denied access to needed mental health services and is given psychotropic medications instead. During a period of 11 months, S. was placed in solitary 81 times for a total of over 580 hours, and he was subject to restraints 22 times in 10 of those months.