Mistreatment of Mentally Ill Children in State Custody Identified by Legal Aid Attorneys

Lawyers for The Legal Aid Society provided the New York Times with several examples of the mistreatment of mentally ill children who are in State detention facilities. The Times article points out that there is no full time staff psychiatrist overseeing the treatment of these children.

“The system just isn’t equipped to deal with children with serious mental health issues,” Tamara A. Steckler, the Attorney-in-Charge of the Juvenile Rights Practice of The Legal Aid Society, told The New York Times. “We need to find another mechanism to treat those children.”

A federal Department of Justice report released in August described in detail the abuses in detention facilities for children and the lack of mental health treatment. The findings were confirmed by the Governor's State-wide Task Force. The Juvenile Rights Practice filed a federal civil rights class action lawsuit December 30, 2009, against the New York State Office of Children and Family Services charging that children confined in OCFS residential centers are subjected to unconstitutional and excessive force by members of the staff and are deprived of legally-required mental health services.The lawsuit, filed by the Society and the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeks declaratory and injunctive relief on the grounds that these children have been denied their constitutional rights under the 14th amendment and other provisions of law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Read the full New York Times story.