In June 2008, the United States and the State of Ohio entered into a court enforceable Consent Decree to remedy the unconstitutional conditions the United States found at the Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility ("Scioto") and Marion Juvenile Correctional Facility ("Marion"). The Consent Decree required the State to reform its policies, procedures, and practices in the following areas: (1) protection from harm, (2) education, (3) mental health, (4) programming and orientation, (5) medical care, and (6) grievances. Since 2008, the United States has worked with monitors to assess the State's compliance with the various provisions in the Consent Decree. In 2009, Marion was closed and no longer monitored.
In June 2011, the United States and the State revised and extended their agreement. Because the State had demonstrated compliance with certain provisions of the Consent Decree, the parties agreed to dismiss those provisions. The United States monitored a variety of provisions involving mental health, protection from harm, special education, grievances and programming and orientation. As part of this process, the United States visited Scioto, interviewed youth, reviewed documentation and worked with the Monitor.
In December 2012, the United States and the State reached a supplemental agreement to reform the State's use of isolation and failure to provide treatment in the special management unit at Scioto. The Court approved this agreement in January 2013. Between November 2013 and January 2014, however, monitoring data revealed that the State continued to use unlawful seclusion on youth at Scioto as well as youth at Indian River Juvenile Correctional Facility ("Indian River"), Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility ("Circleville") and Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility ("Cuyahoga Hills").
On March 12, 2014, the Justice Department sought to supplement its original complaint to include the continuing use of unlawful seclusion at Indian River, Circleville and Cuyahoga Hills. The Court granted the motion on March 28, 2014.
On May 21, 2014, the Court entered an Agreed Order resolving allegations that the State unlawfully subjected youth with mental health needs to harmful seclusion and withheld treatment and programming, in violation of their constitutional rights. Under the Agreed Order, the State pledged to dramatically curtail its use of seclusion and ensure youth receive individualized mental health treatment to prevent and address violent behaviors that led to seclusion. A monitoring team was to obtain data from the State to assist in assessing the State's compliance with the Agreed Order. The Agreed Order also embodied the State's commitment eventually to eliminate the use of seclusion as a punitive measure for all youth in the State's juvenile correctional facilities.
On December 8, 2015, the federal district court for the Southern District of Ohio granted the parties’ joint motion to terminate the Agreed Order. The court noted the “remarkable improvement” in conditions of confinement at the State’s juvenile correctional facilities. The court commended the State for numerous improvements, including the abolition of the practice of disciplinary seclusion, its “vastly improved” mental health services, and a reduction in the incarcerated population from over 2000 children to fewer than 500 today. The monitoring team prepared and filed with the court a detailed report that explained the reforms the State made “to memorialize [the State’s] major policy and practice decisions for the benefit of others in the field.”