The practice of solitary confinement has long been highly controversial both in the United States and many nations abroad. In recent years, this particular process has come under fire in the United States by many citizens and legal rights groups. America is one of the very few nations that use solitary confinement not only for adults but younger offenders. In Tennessee, officials at the American Civil Liberties Union have joined a lawsuit against the Division of Children’s Services that seeks to end the practice of putting juveniles in solitary confinement.
Solitary confinement is the practice of placing prisoners in isolation. inmates are denied the ability to stay in contact with other inmates. Contact with family members is also restricted under this practice. “Lock down” as the practice is known, is intended as a last resort in order to help control certain inmates who may have engaged in violence against other inmates or correctional officers.
The Case in Tennessee
A fifteen year old male was arrested for armed robbery in the state of Tennessee. Officials at the ACLU of Tennessee argue that the Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Center wrongfully placed the young male in solitary confinement. The detainee has a history of documented developmental disabilities. He was placed in solitary confinement for five days after his arrest. Officials at the ACLU would like to see solitary confinement ended for all juveniles as well as for those prisoners with mental illnesses.
Released by a Judge
In response to this suit, a judge in Rutherford County has ordered the release of the detainee in question. The suspect had been ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation in March after he was arrested. However, this evaluation did not take place until the detainee was released from solitary confinement. Officials at the Detention Center have publicly stated that the boy probably does in fact suffer from a mental illness. The young man’s mother filed suit in Federal Court. Her lawyer and those at the ACLU hope her son’s ordeal will serve as an impetus to end this practice for all those who fall into such categories.