JUVENILES AGENCY TO KEEP METHODS THAT SPURRED SUIT
by Jim Walsh
July 1, 1990
The Arizona Department of Juvenile
Corrections, the product of reforms designed to replace punishment with treatment for juvenile offenders, still will use some
practices that have drawn controversy and a federal lawsuit. The department, which begins operation today, plans to use isolation
and "four pointing," or the tying of inmates' hands and feet to bedposts, although for briefer periods and with
more controls than have been used in the past, officials SAID. The policies nonetheless are drawing criticism from inmate-rights
activists and the father who filed the federal lawsuit four years ago that is widely credited with prompting the state to
reform its juvenile-justice system. Carol Hurtt, director of the new agency and formerly head of the juvenile division of
the state Corrections Department, defends the continued, limited use of isolation and four-pointing of juvenile inmates.
"If a juvenile is banging his head against a brick wall, he will be four-pointed to protect himself," she SAID.
An inmate who poses a threat to himself or others will be placed alone in a small room with no windows, she added.
"There has to be some structure," Hurtt SAID. "There has to be a sense of holding young people accountable
for their behavior." But David Lambert, an attorney with the National Center for Youth Law in San Francisco and co-counsel
in the federal lawsuit, described four-pointing as "counterproductive" and SAID he has reservations about its continued
use, because of past abuses. "The history of the use of four-point restraints (in Arizona) has been sordid indeed,"
he SAID. "It's a draconian method of restraint. By definition, the way it has been used is very punitive." And
Dave Johnson, who filed the Johnson vs. Upchurch lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tucson on his son's behalf, SAID he will
refuse to settle the 1986 suit until the state agrees to discontinue four-pointing. Attorneys for Johnson and the state are
attempting to negotiate a settlement. Hurtt said that the new department will not use four-pointing for punishment, as had
been the practice of the Corrections Department, and that each use will have to be approved by the department's assistant
The "Maximum Behavior Control" policy requires that the restraint be terminated
after 15 minutes unless the inmate continues to be self-destructive and that the physical condition of those restrained longer
be evaluated every 30 minutes. Hurtt SAID offenders who threaten themselves or others will be punished with isolation for
a maximum of five days, with their status re-evaluated every two hours. "They will not be denied treatment services,"
she SAID. The Johnson suit alleges that Matt Johnson, while detained in the Corrections Department's Catalina Mountain Juvenile
Institution in 1985 and 1986, received no treatment during more than 50 consecutive days of isolation. Corrections Department
officials have declined to comment on what might have happened to individual inmates such as Matt. Dr. Mark Wellek, a psychiatrist
for Scottsdale Camelback Hospital, SAID putting a juvenile in isolation as long as Matt Johnson was amounts to "the slaughter
of a soul." Juveniles should be placed in isolation for only 20 minutes, just enough to calm them, he SAID.
Four-pointing is not an inherently brutal procedure, but it can lead to brutality if not carefully monitored,
Wellek SAID. When juveniles have been tied to a metal bed frame with no mattress and left alone for hours, as alleged in
Johnson's suit, the measure has been "humiliating and indecent," he SAID. In psychiatric hospitals, patients are
tied to beds with mattresses, and a counselor talks with the patient about his frustrations and helps calm him, Wellek SAID.
He SAID that "it's more likely that they (juveniles) will be treated humanely" by the new department but that "it's
not a guarantee." Juvenile-corrections officers formerly needed only a high-school diploma and a clean police record.
But employees of the new department are required to receive 285 hours of training in dealing with troubled teen-agers by 1992,
and new hires must hold associate degrees from a community college.
Example set in Utah
Bill Jamieson, chairman
of the Governor's Select Commission on Juvenile Corrections, has pointed to Utah's juvenile-corrections system as an example
for Arizona to follow. Ron Stromberg, director of the Utah Office of Social Services, SAID his state never four-pointed juveniles,
even before a similar lawsuit by the Center for Youth Law forced reforms. He SAID isolation was "heavily used"
at the state's largest juvenile facility, the Youth Development Center in Ogden, before it was closed in 1983 as part of an
overhaul spurred by the 1976 suit. "We don't use that stuff anymore. We don't need to," Stromberg SAID. "I
think it's unnecessary, and I'm no wild-eyed liberal." Effective counseling by staff members keeps problems from getting
out of control, he SAID. Of Utah's secure institutions--which are small, locked facilities - two have isolation rooms, but
one room has never been used and the other has been used only twice.