No suicide-proof beds for kids in suicide cells

July 8, 2011

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Barbed wire at a youth prison (Wildeboer)

The youth prison in St. Charles Illinois doesn't have suicide proof beds in cells where kids on suicide watch are kept.  That's according to a report released today by a prison watchdog group.

A suicide at the youth prison a couple years ago led administrators to start installing beds that are like big plastic boxes.  They're designed so suicidal kids can't hang themselves off any part of the bed.

Chris Bernard is with the John Howard Association, the prison watchdog group that released the report today about the conditions inside the prison. 

Bernard says suicide-proof beds were installed in the special treatment unit but they still aren't in the confinement unit, which is where kids on a suicide watch are actually kept.  "So a youth who they know is at risk of suicide is being put in a room where he could use the bed to harm himself," says Bernard.

Bernard also found the prison doesn't have an infirmary so sick kids are being held in the solitary confinement unit.  Bernard says its like kids are being punished for getting injured.

A spokesman for the Department of Juvenile Justice says they're reviewing the report.

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