Milonas v. Williams Memorandum Opinion

Published On: August 1, 1980


In Milonas v. Williams, staff attorneys challenged conditions at a secure residential facility in Provo. After a four-week trial, the federal court permanently enjoined the owners of the school from using a lie detector as part of the ‘therapy’ program, censoring students’ mail, locking students up in tiny isolation cells for long periods of time, and using excessive physical force on students, including the common practice of grabbing students’ hair and pulling backward, known as the ‘hair dance.’ The court’s decision is particularly noteworthy inasmuch as it is the first federal ruling in the nation holding that children in ‘private’ facilities may claim the protection of the federal Civil Rights Act in seeking relief from harmful institutional practices. The school’s owners appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which unanimously rejected their arguments and affirmed the District Court’s ruling. The owners then appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which also rejected their arguments.

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