Tell Shelby County Sheriff: Free 16-Year-Old Girl from Inhumane Solitary Confinement Now
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Jane Doe* is 16-years old. She's been in solitary confinement in adult jail and prison facilities since October 2017.
Jane Doe has been volleyed back and forth between Tennessee Women's Prison and Shelby County Jail East. In both facilities, Jane is locked in a small cell the size of a closet without human contact, despite the fact she has not gone to trial and no judge or jury has convicted her.
Shelby County accommodates male youth being tried as if they were adults with other peers their age in Shelby County, but repeatedly transfers female youth to adult facilities where they are the only young person, meaning these girls are effectively detained in solitary as they await trial. When Sheriff Bill Oldham sends female youth to adult prison facilities, they are more likely to be held in solitary confinement and more likely to be hundreds of miles from their family.
Like all teenagers, Jane Doe is not safe in solitary. Holding youth pre-trial in solitary confinement in adult facilities is dangerous, inhumane, and unfair. No youth should be held in solitary confinement. Solitary confinement does not protect youth, it devastates them. Solitary confinement can cause trauma, psychosis, and increased risk of suicide. Solitary deprives kids of critical supports they need to get better. It makes facilities, staff, and youth less safe.
Jane Doe and all youth deserved to be treated with humanity and housed with their peers. Research consistently shows housing young people close to their families increased public safety and produces better outcomes. Other states accommodate young people charged like adults in juvenile facilities, there is no reason Shelby County can't do the same. There are even other facilities in Tennessee that are willing and able to take Jane Doe and accommodate her in a youth facility with her peers. Yet, Jane Doe remains in solitary confinement.
The legal system has failed her and it’s time we take action. Demand Jane be removed from solitary and housed in a youth appropriate setting.
*Disclaimer: The name of the young person has been changed to Jane Doe to protect her identity.
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