There are few situations more heartbreaking for a parent than learning that your child has suffered harm at the hands of another. Sometimes, there is little to be done in situations like this. But other times, it is possible to hold the responsible party or parties accountable for the suffering a child has experienced. For example, when a child is harmed while residing at a juvenile detention center, there may be legal options available to that child and his or her family. These options largely depend upon the circumstances surrounding the harm that was caused.
It is worth noting that families do not necessarily have to file legal actions themselves, depending on the circumstances surrounding their children’s harm. Sometimes organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union will file suit on behalf of either a single child or a number of children who have experienced similar kinds of harm. It is worth having a discussion with your attorney about whether it makes sense to reach out to organizations like this on behalf of your child. Even if an organization ultimately chooses not to file a suit associated with your child’s situation, reporting your child’s harm to these organizations helps to inform their efforts aimed at protecting children in juvenile detention moving forward.
Minors are granted equal protection under the law and maintain rights to adequate medical treatment, freedom from cruel and unusual punishments and guaranteed certain forms of safety while they are housed in juvenile detention centers. Simply because a child has been found guilty of a specific offense or offenses does not mean that he or she must be forced to endure certain conditions while incarcerated.
Depending on the situation, a minor may be able to sue as a result of the harm he or she has been subjected to. This kind of lawsuit may often be brought while the child remains a minor and may sometimes be brought for a specific number of years after the child has reached the age of 18. These legal opportunities may seem vague in nature. But that is only because there are so many variables in play when determining legal strategies in the wake of harm caused in juvenile detention centers. How the harm was caused, by whom was it caused, how severe was the harm, the age of the child, the location of the center and a host of other factors may influence an individual’s ultimate legal options. For these reasons, it is generally a good idea to speak with an attorney before determining a course of action.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If your child was harmed while residing at a juvenile detention center, you do not have to navigate this reality alone. Please consider speaking with an experienced Bloomington, IL criminal lawyer about your situation. Consulting with an attorney does not obligate you to take any follow-up action. What this kind of conversation will allow you to do is better understand your legal options as you seek to make the best possible decision for your child and your family.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Pioletti & Pioletti for their insight into criminal defense and juvenile detention centers.