Reaction To Video Of Teen Kept In Isolation

Posted at 8:29 PM, May 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-03 22:22:17-04

State lawmakers and legal experts reacted to an exclusive video showing a 17-year-old kept in isolation at an adult jail for weeks. 

Since Newschannel 5 first aired the exclusive video of the teen in isolation reaction has been swift. 

"There must be a better way." That was the reaction to our exclusive video of a troubled teen locked in an isolation cell for weeks on end.  

The law does require teens be kept separate from adults, but there are those who said there has to be a better way. 

"I don't think it serves any good purpose," said state representative Sherry Jones in reference to the video which shows a 17-year-old asleep in a cell at the Rutherford county jail.

He's been there in isolation after a judge transferred his case to adult court since February. Sheriff Robert Arnold said the teen is kept alone.

"Currently he's housed out of sight, sound and touch of anybody," said Arnold.

This teen was charged with aggravated robbery. Jones understood some kids may be too much for the juvenile system. "Juvenile detention may not be able to handle somebody if they are really on the edge," said Jones.

But solitary confinement for almost three months? Jones said lawmakers will be looking at that.

"No, that's not ideal at all," said attorney Jim Todd who served on the state Juvenile Justice Reform Commission.

Isolation is not ideal, but Todd said there's often little choice. "As with all juvenile crime issues are -- they are all resource driven issues," said Todd.

Most county jails simply lack the money needed to properly house the worst juvenile offenders. So when the teens are transferred to adult court, they often end up isolated sometimes for weeks on end.

Rutherford county has already been sued in a separate case where a 15-year-old was kept in isolation in juvenile detention.