WEST PALM BEACH, Fla -- A class action suit has been filed challenging the keeping of children charged as adults, but not yet convicted, in solitary confinement.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court the Southern District of Florida West Palm Beach Division, charges the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and the Palm Beach School Board with civil rights violations.
County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, and others, are also being sued as individuals.
The sheriff's office is accused of exposing to "substantial risk of serious harm" because of the physical and psychological effects of solitary confinement.
The office and the school board are also accused of routinely failing to provide educational services, including those addressing any disabilities, contrary to the Florida Constitution that children have a right to an education.
"These practices constitute serious violations of the children's constitutional rights, including their rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment," the complaint states.
The suit also accuses the defendants of violating the constitutional right to due process, as well as their rights to access educational services and not to be discriminated against because of a disability.
The plaintiffs, three mothers and their children, "demand an end to these detrimental and toxic policies and practices."
"Without immediate intervention, these children will continue suffering inhumane treatment , physical and psychological harm, and acute and long term mental issues from prolonged isolation," the lawsuit charges.
The children are a 16-year-old originally from Honduras who has been in solitary confinement since he was first detained Dec. 1, 2017, and two 17-year-old African-Americans, one who has been held continuously for six months in solitary, both with disabilities as defined by various laws.
As of May, 21 the children were being held in Palm Beach County Jail, according to the suit, which alleges that those held in solitary confinement can be left there for more than a year.