The ACLU wants more Idahoans to know about the case of a boy charged with murdering his father and younger brother. The civil rights organization says 15-year-old Eldon Samuel III is being held in isolation in an adult jail, and it has filed documents in Kootenai County court saying Eldon has been in isolation for 70 days, with cell windows covered with dark blinds. He's only allowed to leave the cell for showers, exercise on a cement slab, and religious and attorney visits.
Samuel was accused of killing his father and brother in their Coeur d'Alene home in May. Prosecutors said the father had been shot once in the stomach and three times in the head. The younger brother was shot, but also stabbed with a knife and hacked with a machete, according to police reports. According to investigators, Samuel said he hated his brother and liked to shoot people while playing video games. Samuel also claimed his father would often beat him.
But the ACLU of Idaho said that's still no reason for him to be held in conditions that a guardian described as "worse than the Guantanamo Bay detention camp."
"Adult prisoners face tremendous psychological problems when placed in isolation, and research suggests that it is even worse for adolescents like Eldon. Many courts have said that such treatment is in violation of Constitutional standards,” wrote ACLU of Idaho Legal Director Richard Eppink, adding that the condition of confinement is unconstitutional.
“Solitary confinement is well known to cause grave psychological harm to adults and youth are even more vulnerable to prolonged isolation,” said Leo Morales, interim executive director of the ACLU of Idaho. “In the context of Eldon’s case, the psychological trauma caused by solitary confinement as amounts to undeserved punishment before trial, resulting in violation of his constitutional rights to due process.”