County settles ACLU lawsuit over teen solitary confinement

SEATTLE (AP) — Grays Harbor County has agreed to pay $45,000 and to make policy changes to settle a lawsuit over its placement of teens in solitary confinement.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in March on behalf of a mother who said her now 17-year-old son was repeatedly placed in solitary for minor infractions, such as talking back or leaving a glob of toothpaste on his door, and that he was subjected to filthy conditions and denied adequate food.

The ACLU said his treatment amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

The county admitted no wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement, but it has revised its policies, including clarifying that juvenile isolation may be used only in certain circumstances and that those in isolation must have adequate bathroom amenities and food. The county agreed to train all juvenile detention staff on the new policies by Dec. 1.