In 1985, the Jerry M. class action lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on behalf of “children who are or will be confined in juvenile detention facilities operated by the District of Columbia.” The plaintiffs contended that the totality of the conditions in the District’s juvenile detention facilities violated statutory and constitutional requirements.
In order to resolve the issues outlined in the lawsuit, the parties entered into a consent decree, which set accountability standards for services provided at District juvenile detention facilities. The consent decree also called for the appointment of a Special Arbiter, who is responsible for oversight of the Agency’s compliance with the requirements of the consent decree.
In 2008, the court approved a Work Plan that established a number of comprehensive, concrete goals and indicators that, once fulfilled, would allow DYRS to exit the Jerry M. litigation. The Work Plan allows for the District (ideally, joined by Plaintiffs) to move to vacate certain provisions after the Special Arbiter determines that the goals have been met. Several provisions of the Work Plan have been vacated, including indicators related to educational programming, placement and physical activity; a number of additional provisions are currently under consideration for compliance by the Special Arbiter.
In 2015, the court approved a Partial Class Action Settlement in the Jerry M class action lawsuit significantly reducing court oversight and monitoring. Under the agreement signed by Judge Herbert B. Dixon, Jr., the Special Arbiter appointed by the Court will no longer review several topics in the “Jerry M. Work Plan.” These topics include environmental health and safety, outdoor recreation, individualized education at DYRS’s Youth Services Center, restraints, and disciplinary actions. DYRS continues to actively work to meet the requirements of the remaining indicators in order to bring the Jerry M. lawsuit to a final resolution.