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When Can You Sue a Juvenile Detention Center?

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

When a juvenile detention center fails to protect the civil rights of the youth offenders allegedly being rehabilitated, they may be subjected to lawsuits brought by, or on behalf of, the offenders, their families, and/or court appointed guardians.

Although minors may not enjoy many of the same rights and privileges under the law, minors in custody still have basic civil rights, including equal protection, the freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, and the right to adequate/necessary medical care while in custody.

As such, when a juvenile detention center is found to be disregarding the rights of youth offenders, civil rights groups like the ACLU are compelled to sue to stop the violations. However, individual minors may also be able to file suit if they have been injured, subjected to violations of their individual civil rights, or abused, at detention centers.

Minors Get More Time to Sue

Minors generally get more time to file lawsuits as the statute of limitations will not begin to run for minors until they reach majority, or 18 years of age. That means that if a state provides for a 1 year statute of limitations for an injury, if a teenager is injured at age 13, they can file a lawsuit up until they turn 19 years old.

When it comes to claims against a government entity, a minor will still have to follow the standard claim filing process before filing suit. However, nearly all jurisdictions provide minors with the same extension of time as ordinary statute of limitations provide to minors.

Injuries and Violations of Civil Rights

When an incarcerated person is injured, whether it was the result of negligence, an assault, or a civil rights violation, there may be legal relief available. For juvenile detention centers, the duty to protect youth offenders from each other, as well as unsanitary, or harmful, conditions, can frequently be the basis of legal claims.

While the Department of Justice does help to remedy injustices against incarcerated youth, they do not assist with individual claims. Individual and class claims for relief generally are brought by private individuals or non-profit organizations. For individuals that have been injured while incarcerated, whether as a youth or an adult, seeking out a consultation with an experienced injury or civil rights attorney as soon as possible can be helpful in determining whether you have a case worth pursuing.

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