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Iowa boy who was locked in seclusion testifies: 'I know I was crying a lot. I felt violated.'

Tuesday 11th of June 2019 | North America, United States
Des Moines Register
News

An Iowa boy with mental disabilities was left in a device that kept him almost completely immobile for more than 4½ hours.

Other boys — some suicidal and as young as 14 — are routinely forced into isolation for weeks at a time in filthy cells that “smell like piss” and have nothing but a sink, toilet and a raised concrete platform to sleep.

Those are among the pieces of testimony presented last week in an ongoing federal trial challenging the constitutionality of Iowa’s treatment of troubled youth at the State Training School for Boys in Eldora.

“It pretty much looks like a dungeon,” a 17-year-old boy named in court as KNX testified Friday, referencing the 6-foot-long and 9-foot-wide isolation cell he said reeked of urine.

The federal civil trial in Des Moines is scheduled to continue through June 19. Executives of the Eldora school are expected to testify Monday, and other boys who attended the school are scheduled to testify later in the week.

The boy — now in another state facility that was not identified in court Friday — said he often spent as much as 23 hours a day in isolation at the facility in the two years he spent at the Eldora school.

Child advocates contend such treatment is unnecessary, illegal and counterproductive to the reform of juvenile delinquents. A lack of mental health care and educational instruction further exacerbates the boys’ problems, according to testimony by Pamela McPherson, a child psychologist from Louisiana who reviewed dozens of Eldora case files.

But Iowa officials say their actions are justified.

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