Doe v. Burwell Consent Judgment

Published On: June 1, 1982


Doe v. Burwell, a federal civil rights class action, challenged the incarceration of children in the Lawrence County jail in Ironton, Ohio, without adequate separation from adult prisoners and under oppressive conditions of confinement. One of the named plaintiffs was a 15-year-old girl who ran away from home, voluntarily returned to her parents, then was put in the county jail by the juvenile court judge to ‘teach her a lesson.’ On the fourth night of her confinement, she was sexually assaulted by a deputy jailer. The litigation revealed that the local juvenile court judge followed extremely punitive policies, including detaining children in the jail one day for each day they were truant from school, and that more than 500 children had been incarcerated in the jail in the past three years, many of them for status offenses. On the scheduled first day of trial, the defendant officials signed a consent judgment, under which they ceased confining any children for any reason whatsoever, and awarded substantial damages to the named plaintiffs.

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