discussion of other effective behavior management techniques and operational changes. 169 For
example, one study that examined the relationships between safety, order, and security outcome
measures revealed that the characteristics of youth in a particular facility are less of a determining
factor than the staff and facility policies and practices. 170 The study also found that one of the
most important predictors of safety in juvenile facilities includes the relationships between staff
and youth. 171 By its nature, the practice of isolation strains relationships between youth and staff,
and can further endanger staff as well as youth.
iii. Courts have examined whether the use of isolation can be considered in the context
Some courts have recognized that youth who are adjudicated delinquent in the juvenile
justice system have a constitutional right to receive a disposition that provides them with
rehabilitative treatment. This right to treatment is also implicit in the Due Process Clause and has
been recognized by federal courts across the country. A child’s right to treatment stems from the
unique nature of the juvenile justice system. Because the juvenile system is focused on
rehabilitation rather than punishment, children are not afforded the same level of procedural
protections provided to those who face criminal charges. 172 Rather, the due process standard for
juvenile proceedings is simply “fundamental fairness.” 173
Some courts recognize the right to treatment as an element of due process, hinging on
the concept that juveniles have different needs and capacities than their adult counterparts, and
the rehabilitative nature of the juvenile court. 174 Because “it would be anomalous to find
treatment and rehabilitation of an offender as relevant goals during pre-dispositional phases of the
juvenile process but not as to the post-dispositional period,” children who are incarcerated by the
juvenile court have a right to receive treatment during their incarceration. 175 Detaining a child
“under a juvenile justice system absent provisions for the rehabilitative treatment of such youth is
a violation of due process rights guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment.” 176
In Morgan, the court prohibited the use of isolation for youth with mental retardation and
mental illness. 177 The Morgan court enjoined defendants from isolating youth “whose
psychological, emotional or intellectual status make isolation inappropriate.” 178 The court
reasoned that because the purpose of incarcerating children is treatment and rehabilitation, due
process requires that the conditions and programs in the institution be reasonably related to
treatment and rehabilitation. 179
In enforcing this constitutional right to treatment, “courts have not attempted to define the
particular treatment program which is appropriate for specific individuals, but instead have
required certain fundamental conditions in an institution which will allow adequate treatment to
take place.” 180 The first of these “fundamental conditions” is that “the institution’s entire
169 Santana v. Collazo, 714 F.2d 1172, 1182 (1st Cir. 1983).
170 PERFORMANCE-BASED STANDARDS, supra note 11, at 7.
172 McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, 403 U.S. 528, 547 (1971).
173 Id. at 544.
174 Bergren v. City of Milwaukee, 811 F.2d 1139, 1143-44 (7th Cir. 1987).
175 Nelson v. Heyne, 355 F. Supp. 451, 459 (N.D. Ind. 1972), aff’d, 491 F.2d 352 (7th Cir. 1974).
176 Pena v. N. Y. State Div. for Youth, 419 F. Supp. 203, 207 (S.D.N. Y. 1976).
177 See Morgan v. Sproat, 432 F. Supp. 1130, 1140 n.15 (S.D. Miss. 1977) (citing Welsch v. Likins, 373 F. Supp. 487, 503 (1974) and
New York State Ass'n for Retarded Child. v. Rockefeller, 357 F. Supp. 752, 768 (E.D.N. Y. 1973)).
179 Id. at 1135 (citing Jackson v. Indiana, 406 U.S. 715, 738 (1972), which held that due process required the nature and duration of a
mentally retarded man’s civil commitment to “bear some reasonable relation to the purpose for which the individual is committed”).
180 Id. at 1140.