Santana v. Collazo, Civ. No. 75-1187

CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
Citation533 F. Supp. 966
Docket Number75-1213 and 75-1466.,Civ. No. 75-1187
PartiesFlora SANTANA, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Jenaro Collazo COLLAZO, et al., Defendants, United States of America, Plaintiff-Intervenor.
Decision Date15 February 1982


Maria Laura Colon, Heriberto Quinones Echevarria, Roberto Fernandez Coll, Puerto Rico Legal Services, Hato Rey, P. R., Harry F. Swanger and John R. Bird, National Juvenile Law Center, St. Louis, Mo., for plaintiffs.

Robert D. Dinerstein, Yolanda Orozco, Mary E. McClymont, U. S. Dept. of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Washington, D. C., for plaintiff-intervenor.

Donato Rivera de Jesus, Marcos A. Ramirez Lavandero, Ramirez & Rivera, Marvin Diaz Ferrer, Hato Rey, P. R., for defendants.

Heriberto Quiñones Echevarría, P. R. Legal Services Corp., Hato Rey, P. R., co-counsel of plaintiffs.


TORRUELLA, District Judge.

After a long and tortuous road,1 this case is ready for adjudication on the merits. It is a consolidation of three separate suits, Santana v. Collazo, Civil Number 75-1187 (filed on October 20, 1975), Olivo v. Ríos, Civil Number 75-1213 (filed on October 24, 1975) and Ibáñez v. Ríos, Civil Number 75-1466 (filed on December 22, 1975). In these suits Plaintiffs allege that juveniles confined in the Mayaguez Industrial School in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico ("Mayaguez"), and the Maricao Juvenile Camp in Maricao, Puerto Rico ("Maricao") are being denied their constitutional rights. On August 10, 1976 these actions were certified as class actions, the class being composed of all present and future juveniles who are committed to the Industrial School and Juvenile Camp.

Plaintiffs' complaints were filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and seek declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1651, 2201 and 2202. They claim in substance, that Defendants acting under color of state law deprived Plaintiffs of their constitutional and civil rights, including, inter alia, the right to due process of law prior to denial of liberty, the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, the right to be free from involuntary servitude, the right to equal protection of the laws, and the right to rehabilitation and treatment services. More specifically Plaintiffs claim: (1) utilization of extensive seclusion in solitary confinement without basic necessities and treatment service; (2) prolonged disciplinary confinement imposed without due process; (3) lack of individualized, comprehensive rehabilitation plans; (4) inadequate opportunities for education and rehabilitation; (5) inadequate medical care, including lack of psychiatric and psychological services; (6) unsanitary conditions throughout the institutions; (7) lack of opportunities for physical exercise and recreation; and (8) that inadequately qualified and trained staff is responsible for the juvenile's rehabilitation. Plaintiffs seek declaratory relief to specify minimal constitutional standards for adequate rehabilitation of juveniles, and injunctive relief to rectify the alleged unconstitutional conditions, policies and practices. They also wish to enjoin Defendants from further admitting juveniles into these institutions until the constitutional standards which they claim are violated have been achieved.

The Complaint in Intervention of the United States was filed on November 29, 1976. It alleges that Defendants' acts and omissions are violative of the confined juveniles' rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. It charges that: (1) juveniles with mental retardation, emotional disturbance and other handicaps are inappropriately placed in institutions which lack appropriate treatment services; (2) juveniles are placed in the Mayaguez or Maricao Camp without due consideration, development or operation of alternative community-based placements which are less restrictive in nature and conditions; (3) juveniles are denied the right to treatment and rehabilitative care, because of inadequate staff and facilities, lack of appropriate treatment and rehabilitative plans, and inhumane physical and psychological environment which fails to provide minimum standards of safety and health; (4) juveniles are subjected to extreme and unnecessary disciplinary measures, including prolonged solitary confinement and corporal punishment; (5) juveniles are forced to undergo excessive and/or nontherapeutic sedation by injection or ingestion of tranquilizing drugs; (6) juveniles are forced to perform nontherapeutic, institution-maintaining labor without financial compensation; and (7) juveniles are deprived of adequate and appropriate education, training and treatment services. Plaintiff-Intervenor requests a declaratory judgment and injunction against Defendants for failing or refusing to provide appropriate care and treatment in the least restrictive setting to all juveniles in their control or custody.

The intervening complaint's jurisdictional statement claims that this Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3) and that declaratory relief is authorized in accordance with 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202. The Court granted intervention pursuant to the provisions of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 1997 et seq. See 89 F.R.D. 369.

In synthesis, Defendants deny the allegations of Plaintiffs and Plaintiff-Intervenor.

After an extensive trial at which numerous witnesses testified, hundreds of exhibits were introduced, and various inspection tours were effectuated by the Court, we conclude that the truth lies somewhere between Plaintiffs' contentions to the effect that conditions at the juvenile facilities resemble the Black Hole of Calcutta and Defendants' version that they approximate a Hollywood version of Father Flanagan's Boys' Town.

Before coming to grips with these factual discrepancies, however, we must clarify certain legal concepts that permeate throughout this controversy.


The principal basis relied upon by Plaintiffs and Intervenor in seeking equitable relief in this case is their alleged claim to a constitutional right to receiving minimally adequate care and treatment while in the custody of the Secretary of the Department of Social Services ("DSS"). Corollary to this contention is their claim to an alleged right to individualized treatment in the least restrictive environment.

These allegations bear some scrutiny.

Plaintiffs and Intervenor rely on the so-called quid pro quo or mutual compact theories2 of juvenile justice, whereby it is reasoned that the state is bound to rehabilitate a delinquent youth as the quid pro quo to his having "bargained away" some of his constitutional rights in the less stringent and informal practices of the typical juvenile court proceeding. See McRedmond v. Wilson, 533 F.2d 757 (C.A. 2, 1976); Nelson v. Heyne, 355 F.Supp. 451 (N.D.Ind., 1972); aff'd 491 F.2d 352 (C.A. 7, 1974), cert. den. 417 U.S. 976, 94 S.Ct. 3183, 41 L.Ed.2d 1146 (1974); Morgan v. Sproat, 432 F.Supp. 1130, 1135-37 (S.D.Miss., 1977); Peña v. N.Y. State Div. for Youth, 419 F.Supp. 203 (S.D. N.Y., 1976), Morales v. Turman, 383 F.Supp. 53, 70 (E.D.Tex., 1974), rev'd on other gds., 535 F.2d 864 (C.A. 5, 1976), rev'd and remanded for decision on merits, 430 U.S. 322, 97 S.Ct. 1189, 51 L.Ed.2d 368 (1977), remanded, 562 F.2d 993 (C.A. 5, 1977); Martarella v. Kelley, 349 F.Supp. 575 (S.D.N.Y., 1972); Inmates Of Boys' Training School v. Affleck, 346 F.Supp. 1354 (D.R.I., 1972); Swansey v. Elrod, 386 F.Supp. 1138 (N.D. Ill., 1975). These theories in turn rest on the "right to treatment" cases3 which arose within the context of patients involuntarily committed to mental institutions. Romeo v. Youngberg, 644 F.2d 147 (C.A. 3, 1980), cert. granted 451 U.S. 982, 101 S.Ct. 2313, 68 L.Ed.2d 838 (1981); Covington v. Harris, 419 F.2d 617 (C.A.D.C.1969); Goodman v. Parwatikar, 570 F.2d 801 (C.A. 8, 1978); Scott v. Plante, 532 F.2d 939 (C.A. 3, 1976), 641 F.2d 117 (C.A. 3, 1981); Rouse v. Cameron, 373 F.2d 451 (C.A.D.C.1966).

It is obvious that these legal principals cannot be considered in a vacuum.

The DSS has custody of Plaintiffs in this case pursuant to the provisions of the so-called Minor's Law of Puerto Rico. 34 L.P. R.A. 2001 et seq. This Statute covers a wide range of matters dealing with minors,4 among which are alleged violations of Commonwealth law or municipal ordinances, cases of incorregible and neglected children, actions concerning the custody, tutorship (guardianship), waiver of patria potestas and adoption of children, and proceedings against the parents, tutors or others relating to encouraging child delinquency or neglect. 34 L.P.R.A. 2002. Jurisdiction is conferred on the Superior Court of Puerto Rico, who has administratively created a "Juvenile Division" to deal exclusively with these matters.5

In Puerto Rico the gaining of custody over a juvenile by DSS is at the end of a line of detailed procedural safeguards. After a complaint is filed, the judge orders a social worker to prepare a report of the social condition of the juvenile and of his family. 34 L.P.R.A. 2005. The investigation conducted at this stage, is aimed at enabling the judge to determine whether his intervention in the case is required, and in the case of a formal complaint, whether further proceedings are warranted. This study collects data concerning the minor, his general social adjustment, his personality, and his family background. The judge may waive jurisdiction and order that the juvenile be charged as an adult or may proceed to hear and decide the case under the juvenile law provisions. 34 L.P.R.A. 2004. No resolution or order of the Court, or evidence adduced against the minor before the juvenile court may be offered or admitted as evidence in any other civil or criminal case, or in any other judicial proceeding commenced against...

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5 cases
  • Alexander S. v. Boyd
    • United States
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    • February 17, 1995
    ...or retarded individuals, generally fall within the same parens patriae authority of the state. See generally Santana v. Collazo, 533 F.Supp. 966, 972 (D.P.R.1982) (discussing the development of the "right to treatment" theories, although eventually rejecting them), aff'd, 714 F.2d 1172 (1st......
  • Hughes v. Judd
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    • April 16, 2015
    ...distinction in evaluating a claim in a constitutional "conditions of confinement" action.Next, the plaintiffs cite Santana v. Collazo, 533 F.Supp. 966 (D.P.R.1982), as "enjoining the use of isolation against all pretrial juvenile detainees." (Doc. 529 at 122, ¶ 339). Santana addresses condi......
  • Santana v. Collazo
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    • September 30, 1983
    ...court also personally inspected conditions at the two camps. On February 15, 1982, the court rendered its decision, reported at 533 F.Supp. 966 (D.P.R.1982). It analyzed the legal theories on which plaintiffs relied and set out detailed factual findings regarding conditions at the camps. Th......
  • State ex rel. S.D.
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    ...F.Supp. 53 (E.D.Tex.1974) (physical beatings and use of tear gas), rev;d on other grounds, 562 F.2d 993 (5th Cir.1977); Santana v. Collazo, 533 F.Supp. 966 (D.P.R.1982) (beatings of children who escaped from institution and were recaptured), aff'd in part and vacated and remanded in part, 7......
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