For months, defense attorneys have stepped up complaints about what they call dangerous and unsanitary conditions, while seeking transfers for their clients. Advocates stress the importance of the issue, in part because most of the juveniles do not end up with a conviction in adult court.
Circuit Judge Wanda K. Heard has listened to case after case involving youths charged as adults and awaiting trial, who have told her about poor treatment in the adult jail. Days-long power outages. Intense heat. Spontaneous beatings. Inadequate medical care. Corrections officers who are not at their posts.
During the hearings, Heard has become exasperated listening to the accounts.
“The purpose of this detention is not to make you suffer. It is not to physically abuse you. It is not to make you submit to assaults,” she told one young defendant before agreeing to move him to the juvenile facility. Turning to another at a separate hearing, she said: “You do not deserve this.”