Action Being Taken To Get Young Offenders Out Of Solitary

Barbara Schwarz
April 09, 2020 - 1:21 pm
Prison, Jail

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The population of 134 at the Downtown Harris County juvenile facility are being kept in their cells, 23 and a half hours a day.

They are let out everyday for thirty minutes to take a shower and make a phone call.   This is, of course, due to Covid-19.

The vast majority are boys and most are between the 13 and 17.   Chris Sailor with the Harris County Public Defenders Office, Juvenile Division says this doesn't keep them safe from the virus and it's terrible for their mental health.  "Particularly for adolescents whose brains are still developing. Adolescents who may have had trauma in their past, who may have mental health issues.  That's a worst case scenario for them.  We're very concerned about their psychological health."

Stephen Halpert, Juvenile Division Chief for the Harris County public defender's office says while the kids are cut off from most media, they know what's going on.  "They're terrified.  There have been at least two juveniles who have tested positive.  A number of detention officers have tested positive and a number of kids are symptomatic."

Those who are symptomatic are on another floor, being watched.  They can't get tested until they meet the criteria.

Both say they would like to see most of the young offenders released to their families and the population of the center brought down to 35 to 40.  If that were the case kids could exercise and take part in distance learning while still social distancing. 

Three local courts have set a hearing on the matter