For Immediate Release: Federal Judge Holds Iowa Liable for Violating Constitutional Rights of Children in State Detention

MEDIA CONTACT:
Children’s Rights—
Camilla Jenkins, 646-216-3311, cjenkins@childrensrights.org

Disability Rights Iowa—Annie Matte, 515-278-2502, contact@driowa.org

Ropes & Gray LLP—Jeanne Hoff, 312-845-1228, Jeanne.Hoff@ropesgray.com

 

Federal Judge Holds Iowa Liable for Violating Constitutional Rights of

Children in State Detention

(March 30, 2020 — Des Moines, IA) – Today, a federal judge has issued a powerful decision in C.P.X. v. Garcia (formerly known as C.P.X. v. Foxhoven), a class action lawsuit brought against the Boys State Training School (BSTS) in Eldora, Iowa. Federal Judge Stephanie M. Rose holds the State liable for violating the constitutional rights of children at the School and ordered that a monitor be appointed to oversee sweeping court-ordered reforms to practices at the School. In the decision, Judge Rose explains that the School’s inadequate mental health care, inappropriate use of solitary confinement, and use of the wrap “torture” device all violate the United States Constitution. 

Filed in 2017, the case centers on BSTS’ lack of adequate mental health care services for children who need them, and the inappropriate use of solitary confinement and a mechanical 14-point restraint known as the “wrap,” which holds children with mental illness immobile. In the decision, Judge Rose writes that the State’s action in allowing the use of the wrap “shocks the conscience” and that, by using it, the School “tortures’ its students. She goes on to say:

“The students at the School are almost entirely children. Some of these children are dangerous; some of them are not. But all deserve our protection. These children’s care was entrusted to the School by well-meaning judges across the State of Iowa. To learn that the School used the wrap to revictimize already vulnerable, typically mentally ill, children entrusted to their care is disturbing to the Court at a level that is nearly indescribable.”

“This is an extraordinary victory for children. The Court has confirmed that Boys State Training School is not providing sufficient mental health care services to children who need them, using solitary confinement and illegal restraints as a means of punishment in violation of the constitution.  The School literally has been torturing youth in its care,” said Harry Frischer, lead counsel at Children’s Rights. “The judge carefully evaluated the School’s standards and procedures, and at the end of the day found that the State has failed to provide critical health care services to mentally ill students. Looking ahead, we are confident the state will bring the facility in line with medical standards and provide children with the care they need.”

“This decision vindicates many boys who have suffered mistreatment and lack of treatment at this facility for far too long. A few brave boys, the named plaintiffs, used their voice in the hopes of changing this situation for boys in the future.  This decision is the initial step in this process. We are hopeful that, with the court’s oversight, the state of Iowa can make the necessary changes in the days ahead,” said Nathan Kirstein, lead counsel at Disability Rights Iowa. “We applaud the court’s decision, and its commitment to the health and safety of children in state care — particularly during the unprecedented public health crisis we are facing.”

“We applaud the Court’s ruling, and we look forward to ensuring that Judge Rose’s order is carried out to restore dignity and humanity to the boys committed to the Boys State Training School,” added Timothy Farrell, a partner at Ropes & Gray LLP and one of the trial counsel for the plaintiff class.  “We also salute the tireless efforts of Children’s Rights and Disability Rights Iowa in advocating for this kind of change nationwide; it has been an honor partnering with these tremendous organizations.”       

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Disability Rights Iowa, co-counsel in the BSTS lawsuit, and Brent Pattison, Director and Associate Clinical Professor, Joan and Lyle Middleton Center for Children’s Rights at Drake University Law School have called on the state to publicly share its emergency plan for addressing COVID-19 in Iowa’s juvenile justice and child welfare systems.  In a letter to Governor Kim Reynolds, they urged the adoption of measures to protect youth, including discharging medically vulnerable youth and nonviolent offenders, and dramatically curtailing new admissions to detention facilities.

C.P.X. v. Foxhoven was filed by national child welfare advocacy organization Children’s Rights, Des Moines advocacy group Disability Rights Iowa, and international law firm Ropes & Gray LLP on behalf of all children confined to the Boys State Training School now or in the future and who have significant mental illnesses. For more information about C.P.X. v. Foxhoven, please visit childrensrights.org/class_action/g-r-v-foxhoven.

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About Children’s Rights: Every day, children are harmed in America’s broken child welfare, juvenile justice, education, and healthcare systems. Through relentless strategic advocacy and legal action, we hold governments accountable for keeping kids safe and healthy. Children’s Rights, a national non-profit organization, has made a lasting impact for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children. For more information, please visit www.childrensrights.org.

About Disability Rights Iowa: Disability Rights IOWA is part of a nationwide network of protection and advocacy systems established in the 1970s by the U.S. Congress to respond to abuse and neglect of Iowans with disabilities and/or mental illnesses. DRI defends and promotes the human and legal rights of Iowans who have disabilities and mental illnesses. We promote safety, opportunity, access, and self-determination for all Iowans. For more information, please visit www.disabilityrightsiowa.org.

 

About Ropes & Gray LLP: Ropes & Gray is a preeminent global law firm with approximately 1,400 lawyers and legal professionals serving clients in major centers of business, finance, technology and government. The firm has offices in Chicago, New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Silicon Valley, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul, and has consistently been recognized for its leading practices in many areas, including private equity, M&A, finance, asset management, real estate, tax, antitrust, life sciences, health care, intellectual property, litigation & enforcement, privacy & cybersecurity, and business restructuring.

 

Ropes & Gray’s public service commitment is a hallmark of the firm, rooted in the example set by the firm’s founders more than a century and a half ago.  From securing asylum for endangered immigrants, to helping people keep their homes, to winning the release of the wrongly convicted, Ropes & Gray strives to provide the highest level of pro bono legal advice and support to those who need it most.  www.ropesgray.com

Disability Rights Iowa Statement about UHC Leaving Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 1, 2019

DRI Statement on UHC Leaving Iowa’s Privatized Medicaid

(Des Moines, Iowa) – March 29, 2019, UnitedHealthcare notified the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) that they would be leaving the private managed care system. For right now, Medicaid long-term services and supports (LTSS) recipients are able to receive their services as usual until June 30, 2019. This change means that some LTSS recipients will soon be on their third Managed Care Organization (MCO) in three years. This level of upheaval and uncertainty has been a trademark of the privatized system since its inception.

In DRI’s experience, a state-run system for Iowans receiving Medicaid LTSS worked better than a private managed care system. We saw a significant increase in cuts to services when managed care started in 2016. Now, people live in fear of more cuts, service providers leaving the system because of lack of adequate and timely payment, and a constant state of change and uncertainty for members. The continual stress of advocating for necessary services and supports is especially exhausting for Iowans with disabilities who are trying to live their best lives. We hope that UnitedHealthcare members will be able to keep their service providers, but the future is unknown as of this moment.

The Future

The Iowa Department of Human Services should be sending out updated enrollment letters soon, since the ones that were recently sent are now obsolete because of the loss of UnitedHealthcare as an MCO. DRI will make sure to stay on top of this developing situation and keep everyone informed via our website and social media.

Managed Care Organizations should be held accountable to performance measures, and we hope that the state of Iowa keeps this as a priority when negotiating with the newest MCO, Iowa Total Care. Medicaid recipients deserve to receive adequate and continuous services from qualified providers without being confronted by cuts and inconsistent care. LTSS recipients deserve to be served by competent managed care providers. Service providers deserve to get paid for the work that they do. The state needs to make these realities the pillars of all future negotiations.

Steps to Take

For now, please refer to DRI’s guide to navigate managed care in Iowa for immediate steps to take. This guide covers how to be your own best advocate when dealing with MCOs and can be found on our website under the Resources > DRI Publications tab. If you receive an individual written notice of service cuts, contact us and we can help with the appeal process, regardless of which MCO is cutting services.

In addition to all of the work that DRI is doing to help individual LTSS recipients, we also want to help boost your voices and opinions on privatized managed care. In order to do that most effectively, we are going to revive our #IAmMedicaidIowa social media campaign. If you would like to participate in this campaign, please send or post pictures of you or a loved one who uses managed care holding a sign with #IAmMedicaidIowa. Along with the photos, please share a story using #IAmMedicaidIowa in the text of the post to amplify the campaign. DRI will share and repost your stories so that they can reach the widest possible audience. Your voices and stories deserve to be heard, MCOs should know the impact that their actions have on real Iowans who need services and supports to live a full, community involved life.

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Disability Rights Iowa aims to defend and promote the human and legal rights of Iowans who have disabilities and mental illness. DRI promotes safety, opportunity, access, and self-determination for all Iowans.

For more information call (515)-278-2502 x 20 or visit: www.driowa.org