Willie M. v. Hunt

Willie M. v. Hunt was a federal civil rights lawsuit that challenged the state’s failure to provide adequate community-based treatment facilities for children labeled ‘violent’ or ‘aggressive.’ Prior to the lawsuit, class members were often warehoused in large mental health institutions and juvenile training schools and deprived of any meaningful treatment. As a result of the litigation, the defendant state officials entered into a settlement which recognizes the right of these children to appropriate treatment in the least restrictive setting and which obligates the state to develop new community-based facilities. An independent review panel was created to monitor compliance efforts. By late 1987, over $100 million had been appropriated by the North Carolina General Assembly for treatment of children under the Willie M. program.