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Eldora, IA: State training school for boys as young as 14 routinely uses restraint/seclusion

June 10, 2019, Des Moines (IA) Register: Iowa boy who was locked in seclusion testifies: 'I know I was crying a lot. I felt violated.' An Iowa boy with mental disabilities was left in a device that kept him almost completely immobile for more than 4½ hours. Other boys — some suicidal and as young as 14 — are routinely forced into isolation for weeks at a time in filthy cells that “smell like piss” and have nothing but a sink, toilet and a raised concrete platform to sleep. Those are among the pieces of testimony presented last week in an ongoing federal trial challenging the constitutionality of Iowa’s treatment of troubled youth at the State Training School for Boys in Eldora. … The federal civil trial in Des Moines is scheduled to continue through June 19. Executives of the Eldora school are expected to testify Monday, and other boys who attended the school are scheduled to testify later in the week. The boy — now in another state facility that was not identified in court Friday — said he often spent as much as 23 hours a day in isolation at the facility in the two years he spent at the Eldora school. … But Iowa officials say their actions are justified. The boys — sentenced to the school through court order following serious criminal and behavioral incidents — are often a danger to themselves, and sometimes the boys assault other students and the school’s staff, state representatives said. Isolation and use of the “wrap” — a device that almost completely immobilizes the boys— are employed for protection and are within Iowa’s right, officials representing the state said in court or in depositions for the case. Use of the wrap doubled from 89 times in 2015 to 178 times in 2017, state data presented in court Friday showed. And a point-in-time review in May 2017 showed that at least two-thirds of the school's students had been placed in isolation at least once, an increase from previous years. The class action lawsuit was filed in 2017 by the congressionally chartered Disability Rights Iowa and a New York nonprofit called Children's Rights Inc. It does not seek monetary damages but, instead, asks the state to reform its future use of seclusion and restraints for the roughly 110 students who are at the school at any given time. …


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