We have started this petition to ask the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility to cease in their abuse and torture of an autistic juvenile. Furthermore, we want Blade transfered to the juvenile corrections program right away so he may receive the education, rehabilitation services, and special needs programs he is promised by law.
He has been treated as a throwaway child, his life deemed worthless and irrelevant. That is all going to change. Beginning now. And here's why...
Blade Reed was 13 years old when he was involved in a crime, along with his older brother, involving two elderly neighbors. Despite being significantly developmentally and cognitively disabled, Blade was sentenced to 30 years in the adult criminal court for robbery (with severe bodily injury). At the time of the crime he was reportedly functioning at the level of an 8-to-10 year old child. To date, Blade is 17 years old and he does not even function at the level of a 12 year old child.
Blade is autistic. Though his disability is a part of his permanent medical record, the prison facility responsible for his care has subjected him to torture and abuse that would be unacceptable for any person, let alone someone who is autistic.
Since Blade's incarceration in Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (an adult facility) he has suffered a long list of egregious punishments and horrors, ranging from multiple sexual assaults and violent beatings. To escape these horrendous conditions and further torture at the hands of others, Blade has attempted to commit suicide a number of times. Read more about what Blade has been through and see a timeline by clicking here.
Blade has been held in solitary confinement since February 8th because of an altercation he had with another inmate. The other inmate has a history of antagonizing Blade, yet nothing has been done to restrict their interaction. After taking a swing at the other inmate, Blade was punished for fighting. By February 11th, Blade's mother reported that her son was unwell and having a very difficult time with the solitary confinement. The other inmate received several days of lockup in his cell - a sharp contrast to what you are about to read about Blade (click here for an even more detailed description).
On February 25th, Blade was moved from solitary confinement into a "strip cell". He has been forced to strip down into his underwear. He does not have a mattress or anything to give him any comfort. He has nothing to assist in passing the long hours he spends completely alone. He is on suicide watch for 72 hours because after enduring several sleep-deprived nights of listening to other inmates bang on their cells he could no longer take it and he attempted suicide using his fingernails.
Blade is an autistic individual functioning below the level of a 12 year old child. The Indiana Department of Corrections has the ability to house him in their juvenile corrections program and facility until he is 21. In such a setting Blade would receive access to an education, rehabilitation services, and accommodations for his disability. Currently he is receiving none of those things. Further, he is experiencing what can only be described as torture and abuse at the hands of those who have a legal and ethical responsibility to ensure his safety and care.
In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) addresses the authority and responsibility of the U.S. Attorney General to "investigate conditions of confinement at State and local government institutions such as prisons, jails, pretrial detention centers, juvenile correctional facilities, publicly operated nursing homes, and institutions for people with psychiatric or developmental disabilities. Its purpose is to allow the Attorney General to uncover and correct widespread deficiencies that seriously jeopardize the health and safety of residents of institutions."
Moreover, the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility is also in violation with the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. Though the United States (along with only Somalia) has not ratified this agreement, it has agreed to its obligations and covenants by signing it.
Article 19 (Protection from all forms of violence): Children have the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally. Governments should ensure that children are properly cared for and protect them from violence, abuse and neglect by their parents, or anyone else who looks after them. In terms of discipline, the Convention does not specify what forms of punishment parents should use. However any form of discipline involving violence is unacceptable. There are ways to discipline children that are effective in helping children learn about family and social expectations for their behaviour – ones that are non-violent, are appropriate to the child's level of development and take the best interests of the child into consideration. In most countries, laws already define what sorts of punishments are considered excessive or abusive. It is up to each government to review these laws in light of the Convention.
Article 23 (Children with disabilities): Children who have any kind of disability have the right to special care and support, as well as all the rights in the Convention, so that they can live full and independent lives.
Article 28: (Right to education): All children have the right to a primary education, which should be free. Wealthy countries should help poorer countries achieve this right. Discipline in schools should respect children’s dignity. For children to benefit from education, schools must be run in an orderly way – without the use of violence. Any form of school discipline should take into account the child's human dignity. Therefore, governments must ensure that school administrators review their discipline policies and eliminate any discipline practices involving physical or mental violence, abuse or neglect. The Convention places a high value on education. Young people should be encouraged to reach the highest level of education of which they are capable.
Article 37 (Detention and punishment): No one is allowed to punish children in a cruel or harmful way. Children who break the law should not be treated cruelly. They should not be put in prison with adults, should be able to keep in contact with their families, and should not be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without possibility of release.
We will not rest until Blade Reed is moved to the juvenile corrections program and out of the adult program that has caused him so much physical and psychological trauma.