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Earlier concerns voiced here for girls come out in Wisconsin suit

Closing of Toledo IJH / Training School Led To Other Placements, Current Issue

August 10, 2017
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

It has remained on the minds locally the fate of the youths who were being treated and cared for at the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls in Toledo after it was shut down in January of 2015.

Since then, there's been little, if anything reported, although indications have been from former IJH staff some of the girls were transferred to facilities out-of-state.

That has been confirmed with the filing of a federal law suit last week.

The Wisconsin State Journal in Madison reported two placements at the Wisconsin Youth Prison had filed a federal lawsuits alleging they were kept in solitary confinement for months "even after both tried to commit suicide in their cells."

The two teenage girls were at locations identified as the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls juvenile correctional facility because the state of Iowa had closed the facility "over allegations of abuse and keeping inmates in isolation too long, according to the two lawsuits filed in federal court on Tuesday" (Aug. 1) the State Journal news story said.

It also reports the girls were youth prison inmates starting in March and July of 2015 and were kept there until and August, 2016, respectively. It is reported the girls allege in their suit they were kept in solitary confinement for a total of four or five months and let out of their cells for two hours daily.

Cedar Rapids Placement Problem

On the heels of this, The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported on Friday a court placement issue with whom is described as a "violent 16-year-old girl" who allegedly slit the throat of a worker at the Four Oaks Center in Cedar Rapids.

A hearing on Thursday, Aug. 3, focused on placement of the girl who has been held in the Linn County Detention Center since April according to The Gazette.

With apparently no facility available or willing ot accept the girl, officials are looking at out--of-state placement it was reported.

Some details of the case are not reported in The Chronicle because the matter is in juvenile court.

Toledo Closing

Disability Rights Iowa, a federally-funded, private attorney organization had conducted what it termed an investigation of the Toledo facility during 2014. Among its findings were alleged violations of educational opportunities for some of the students. Also chargeds. mistreatment of several students who were found to have been confined for long periods of time in quiet rooms.

With the investigation in hand, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Human Services Director Charles Palmer ordered the institution closed.

The closing was challenged and a Polk County District Court judge issued an injunction ordering the reopening. The case ended up before the Iowa Supreme Court which ruled the case moot because the facility was already closed.

An Iowa Department of Human Services report prepare for The Chronicle in June, 2015, showed no out-of-state placements for delinquent girls at that time. A total of 12 were at home, two in group care in Iowa and one in independent living.

A report entitled The Juvenile Justice Reform Report issued in February of this year said, in part, "Iowa is seeing an increase of girls in the number of arrests, court cases, and detention."

The report seemed to present contradictory findings in at elates some instances:

Services for girls may exist in Iowa, but the JCO Supervisors say they are often more limited and difficult to access for high risk, high need girls.

JCO Supervisors identified services missing in Iowa for high risk, high need, or "deep end", girls. Responses are overwhelmingly related to Iowa's lack of locked or secure facility alternatives or a state training school. Additional responses indicate there are no adequate mental health services and residential treatment options locally or in reasonable proximity for this difficult to serve population.

"To be clear, these recommendations do not support creation or construction of an institution like the Iowa Juvenile Home and State Training School for Girls. Likewise, the principles above strongly dictate against creation of a facility that mirrors or is present on the campus of the Boy's State Training School."

The Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo had been in operation since 1920 and had cared for varying numbers of youth over the 94-year history.

the campus had undergone a $20 million-plus renovation which was undertaken beginning less that 10 years ago. The Girls State Training School was added in the early 1990s.

It was Toledo's largest employer with 93 full time staff members losing their jobs.

Excerpts from Wisconsin State Journal used with permission.



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