Video Shows Teen Kept In Solitary Confinement

Posted at 8:48 PM, May 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-02 21:59:14-04

A newly released video shows another Rutherford County teen held in solitary confinement while awaiting trial.

The video obtained by Newschannel 5 shows a 17-year-old in his jail cell sleeping. He did little else for three months - such is life in isolation.

"Currently he's housed out of sight, sound and touch of anybody. It's something that's always on my mind whenever you have to house a juvenile," said Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold.

He said it's tough, but he had no choice. A judge transferred the teen's robbery case to adult court so he was moved from juvenile detention to the jail.

The law requires he be kept away from adult inmates. Sheriff Arnold complied, but said 90 days alone clearly takes it's toll.

"Being segregated away from everybody and not being allowed to have contact with people. It does play on the psyche," said the sheriff.

Rutherford county already faces a federal lawsuit -- accused of keeping a 15-year-old boy in solitary confinement in the juvenile detention center.

This case with a 17-year-old is different. He was bound over to adult court, but, critics who have filed lawsuits both here and across the country said it's still wrong to isolate juveniles for long periods of time in jail while they are awaiting trail.

The sheriff said there was not other option. "There's a problem. To me that's solitary confinement," said Arnold.

And  the sheriff had no idea how much longer the boy would be kept isolated until his case was heard in court.

Arnold said his staff has allowed the teen out of the cell several hours each day to walk by himself, and they provide him with puzzles and books.

Yet, other than visits from his family and contact with guards he's left alone.