Ohio challenges feds’ effort to limit seclusion


Associated Press

COLUMBUS

Ohio is challenging federal officials’ legal efforts to get a court to limit solitary confinement used to discipline boys with mental health disorders throughout the state’s juvenile prison system.

The Justice Department calls the practice rampant and sought an order to limit seclusion at four facilities, a request that adds to a 2008 lawsuit raising concerns about seclusion and inadequate mental health services in the system.

State responses filed Friday said a proposal aimed at reducing seclusion is under discussion and the Justice Department’s latest arguments should be rejected.

Given the responsibility to provide a safe environment encouraging rehabilitation, the state is “in the best position to determine how seclusion is applied, the amount of time a youth should spend in seclusion based on all aspects of the youth’s experience at [the Department of Youth Services], and the best ways to reduce seclusion if necessary,” the attorney general’s office wrote.

The state accused federal officials of improperly trying to alter an earlier agreement in the case without filing a new complaint and to reach beyond the one facility that the Justice Department still oversees under the agreement. That youth prison, the Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility, is scheduled to close soon.

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