70 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 39: 1 2019]
custody, research regarding the harmful effects of solitary confinement, and the American
Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s 2012 statement opposing the use of solitary
confinement in juvenile facilities.238 The resolution stated that juvenile court judges share a
responsibility to “care for and protect youth” in their jurisdiction and supports “a presumptive rule
against solitary confinement of youth, except when absolutely necessary for the safety of youth,
others, or the facility.”239 The resolution called on judges to be leaders on this issue, and
encouraged them to review local policies, review data from local facilities, and to support and
promote strategies to reduce the use of solitary confinement.240
IV. MORE LITIGATION IN CALIFORNIA AND THE LOS ANGELES RESOLUTION
Much of the national activity just discussed in Section III, supra unfolded
contemporaneously with the California legislative efforts to limit locked room confinement that
began in 2012 (Section V, infra). There were also several California-based developments that
helped to create a climate for change and helped to confirm the need for limitations on the use of
locked room time.
In 2010, Los Angeles County became the target of litigation involving youth in county
detention facilities. Public Counsel, the ACLU of Southern California, and the Disability Rights
Center filed Casey A. v. Robles, et al., a class action lawsuit alleging Los Angeles County’s failure
to provide youth at the Challenger Memorial Youth Center with a basic and appropriate
education.241 Although the allegations and causes of action focused on the denial of adequate
education services, the complaint described one of the plaintiffs, Miguel B., as being held in
isolation in the “Special Housing Unit,” in a cell containing only a cot, for more than two
months.242 During this period, he sometimes received schoolwork shoved under his door, and some
days he received no instruction at all.243 No teachers came to see him, nor did he interact with other
students.244 A settlement was reached in March 2011, resulting in the provision of compensatory
educational services to class members.245
In 2012, the same lawyers, along with Disability Rights Advocates, investigated similar
claims in Contra Costa County in the San Francisco Bay Area.246 The team discovered that youth
with mental health diagnoses were being detained in solitary confinement for prolonged periods
of time.247 In 2013, they sued the county for violating the constitutional and statutory rights of
youth with special education needs and specifically called out the imposition of long periods of
238 RESOLUTION REGARDING REDUCING THE USE OF SOLITARY CONFINEMENT FOR YOUTH, supra note 236.
241 Complaint in Casey A. et al. v. Robles et al., Case No. CV 10-00192 GHK (FMOx) (C.D. Cal. 2000)
242 Id. at 20.
243 Id. at 21.
245 Notice of Settlement of Class Action Litigation in Casey A. v. Robles et al., Case No. CV 10-00192 GHK (FMOx),
ACLU) (C.D. Cal. 2011), https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/Casey_A__Class_Notice_post.pdf.
246 Email from Kara Janssen, formerly John W. Carson / LD Access Fellowship Attorney, Disability Rights Advocates,
currently Associate Attorney, Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP (Feb. 1, 2018) (on file with author).