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Solitary confinement prompts lawmakers to seek an audit of Tennessee juvenile prison system

23 Nov 2023, Jail News, by

An audit was sought for Tennessee’s youth prison system over concerns about children’s solitary confinement.

Solitary confinement prompts lawmakers to seek an audit of Tennessee juvenile prison system - Inmate Lookup

Following revelations that the kids are subjected to solitary confinement for minor infractions, lawmakers in Tennessee are demanding a comprehensive audit of the state’s juvenile prison system.

According to ProPublica, the Richard L. Bean Juvenile Service Center, under the direction of its namesake, Richard L. Bean, since 1972, employs outdated practices. Bean stated that they treat all residents as if they have committed murder to deter problems.

Policies instituted by the Tennessee Department of Corrections in 2017 allow the seclusion of incarcerated children in 50-square-foot rooms, emphasizing it as a last resort.

However, reports indicate that children in the state, including those at the Bean Center, as reviewed by ProPublica, have faced solitary confinement for trivial actions like laughing during a meal. Such practices were underscored in a 2018 Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (TDCS) report, where a child revealed being isolated for forgetting to bring books to class.

ProPublica reported that despite concerns and corrective action taken against the Bean Center in 2018 for using seclusion as punishment, the facility’s license was renewed in 2019, even as reports indicated an increase in seclusion incidents.

This has prompted 14 Tennessee Democratic legislators to write a letter on November 16 urging TDCS to audit the juvenile prison system.

State Sen. Heidi Campbell stressed the constitutional duty to enforce state laws and the moral obligation to ensure humane treatment of youth in state-licensed facilities, expressing concern over disturbing comments made by Bean, who treated every child as if they were there for murder.

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services informed ProPublica that the matter is a priority and that steps are being taken urgently to address the concerns within the Bean Center.