Everybody knows kids can be bad. And there’s a big difference between mischief and criminal activity.
But there’s also a big difference between sending a child to his room and putting a teenager in solitary confinement, even placing a board over the window to block out the sun as part of the punishment, and a pretrial detainee, no less.
That’s what they’ve been doing, though, at the Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Center, according to court documents, at least until a federal judge ordered the people in charge to stop it.
The mother of a 15-year-old filed suit against the detention center and Rutherford County in 2016, contending her 15-year-old son was wrongfully held in solitary confinement for long periods of time, up to 23 hours straight for allegedly disrupting a classroom where, likely, they were diagramming sentences, dissecting Shakespeare and digesting the Pythagorean theorem.
Even though he probably suffers from a mental illness or even mental retardation, he went in the hole for at least five days, locked in a concrete cell for nearly a full day at a time with “nothing but a mattress and a toilet,” according to the attorney handling the case.
That ought to teach him to come out saying “yes ma’am” and “yes sir” and “pass the peas please,” in addition to hating everybody who put him in that place.
According to the lawsuit, which is now a class action affecting all juveniles at the detention center, they didn’t put him in solitary confinement because he was a danger to himself and others. No, they did it because he “hollered,” “rapped” and “flashed gang symbols” while disobeying in class. One of the women being sued says he was “acting crazy.”
Granted, a lot of people don’t like rap music, and some rappers are one step from gangster, if not full-fledged. Then again, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were musical and lyrical geniuses. Just listen to “The Message.”
A child is born with no state of mind
Blind to the ways of mankind
God is smilin’ on you but he’s frownin’ too
Because only God knows what you’ll go through
You’ll grow up in the ghetto livin’ second rate
And your eyes will sing a song called deep hate
The place you play and where you stay
Looks like one great alleyway
It’s hard to take a kid out of the ’hood, dress him up in Sunday school clothes and make him a model citizen.
But when someone might have a mental illness or be mentally disabled, solitary confinement should be out of the question. Not only is it unconstitutional, it’s probably immoral.
What’s been happening at juvenile detention is no shock, though, considering how local law enforcement has been rounding up kids and shipping them to jail, treating them like they had a warrant out for their arrest, according to yet another lawsuit over the arrest and handcuffing of children at Hobgood Elementary School a year ago.
We’ll teach them a lesson and prepare them for 940. For the uninitiated, that’s the county jail on New Salem Highway, where you can’t buy e-cigarettes anymore because the former sheriff got too greedy but you can get half of a cold sandwich, some pasta and Italian dressing for lunch. The dressing must count as the vegetable. At least that’s what they ate the day I was invited to view their wholesome dietary plan.
It’s little wonder the inmates are attacking jailers and each other, as documented in lawsuits and jail reports.
Sheriff’s Sentencing in September
And speaking of the former sheriff, at least he’s out of solitary confinement in a Kentucky jail and shipped off to a West Tennessee facility where he’s waiting to be sentenced after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges. He called the first stop a “dungeon.”
A magistrate ordered Robert Arnold to be held separately from other prisoners late last September when she found he violated his probation after getting into a tussle with his wife and then lying about it to federal officers and trying to intimidate his wife and keep her from talking to TBI agents.
Arnold has been trying to have his sentencing date moved up to mid-April. But U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp, who is stepping down April 15 to go into private practice, gave the case to a senior judge from Illinois.
Not only is he denying Arnold’s request, he’s moving sentencing to September so he’ll have time to review the matter.
At this point, it appears Arnold’s best bet is to appeal to President Trump. Maybe he’ll feel sorry for him. After all, The Donald is an entrepreneur of sorts, even if he is spending billions to construct a wall to keep people out who want to do the work other people are too lazy to do.
Off the Wall
And speaking of President Trump, his first major initiative, killing Obamacare, fell by the wayside because of folks such as our Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who has been fighting the Affordable Care Act for years but then helped keep it alive by opposing the replacement plan along with the rest of the congressional Freedom Caucus.
This is the definition of irony.
Here’s the problem, though, and it’s not going away soon, no matter what program is put in place. A lot of employers don’t want to kick in on health insurance anymore, nor do they want to fund pensions. Pharmaceutical companies, who are keeping us alive at the same time they’re killing us, are making billions of dollars. Insurance companies, who don’t want to cover really sick people, are getting pissed off and dropping out of the marketplace exchange because it’s expensive to cover poor people in bad health. Their bottom lines are taking a hit. Hospitals charge out the wazoo for everything from giving you an aspirin to checking your blood pressure, then they keep you in the emergency room for an entire night before putting you in a hospital room.
Everything’s too expensive, including the insurance premiums, and none of our elected leaders are doing one thing to stop it. But while rich folks don’t mind paying for Cadillac coverage so the man can vacation in the Bahamas, most working people can’t afford $300 to $500 a month.
Cry me a river, right? This ain’t 1975.
Save your money, stop eating junk food, quit smoking and drinking, sew your own clothes and drive beat-up cars. Then, maybe you can pay the medical clinic for all the bills that keep piling up.
If nothing else, it’ll make the man happy.