Los Angeles Judge Orders Monitor On Child Detention Center Amid Forced Medication Claims

Neetu Chandak | Contributor

A Los Angeles judge ordered oversight of immigration authorities that handle children after a Texas detention center allegedly forced children to take psychiatric medication.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee rejected the government’s arguments Friday after lawyers claimed the children were not being given fair treatment, were forced to take medications against their will and were given the drugs without parental consent, according to Bloomberg.

The lawsuit was first filed on April 16 by Los Angeles-based Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law, days after the Trump administration enacted its zero-tolerance policy to halt illegal immigration, Reuters reported June 20. The lawsuit argued that children held at facilities like Shiloh Treatment Center in Texas were most likely being given psychotropic drugs forcibly and consistently.

The Shiloh center specializes in treating kids with emotional and behavioral problems. (RELATED: Immigrant Rights Groups Sue Department of Justice For Giving Psychiatric Treatment To Anxious Children)
The Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation said the Shiloh center is closely monitored by the state of Texas to make sure the facility follows child welfare laws and abides to informed consent when prescribing psychotropic drugs in a May 25 court filing, according to Bloomberg. The DOJ added that the children at Shiloh have either violent histories or very high levels of mental health needs.
Some children claimed to be given up to nine various pills in the morning and six in the evening. If the children refused to take the medication, they were told they would remain in detention, and some reported to being forcibly injected, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claimed the psychotropic drugs were being used as “chemical straight jackets” instead of treating the mental problems. Psychotropic drugs, however, refer to drugs like antidepressants, anxiety medications and antipsychotics, which treat psychiatric problems.
“Awakening youth in the small hours of the morning and transferring them to juvenile lock-ups without notice or opportunity to be heard breaks faith with both law and common decency,” the attorneys said in a federal court filing June 15 in Los Angeles, Bloomberg reported.

Gee said she will appoint someone for the monitor position within two weeks.

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