ID prison executive see for space to keep teen killer

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Source:   —  April 10, 2016, at 10:54 PM

Eldon Samuel III was just fourteen when he shot to death his drug-addicted father and then shot, stabbed and hacked to death his autistic younger brother in their northern ID home.

An ID teen has been sentenced to spend the next twenty years in an adult prison, forcing correction executive to see across the country to discover a secure space for the 16-year-old to do his time.

Eldon Samuel III was just fourteen when he shot to death his drug-addicted father and then shot, stabbed and hacked to death his autistic younger brother in their northern Idaho home.

Latest week, first District Judge Benjamin Simpson sentenced him to spend the following two decades in prison, starting immediately. But federal laws prohibit minors from being held within sight or sound of adult prison inmates.

Currently, the only way for ID prisons to meet those standards is to space the teen in solitary confinement.

That'south got ID Dept of Correction executive scrambling to discover a solution.

"We necessity to hold him separate from our adult offenders, and unfortunately there are number other juveniles in our system," said Ashley Dowell, the department'south deputy chief of prisons.

The solution will likely be an out-of-state prison, Dowell said. Minors aren't unheard of in ID prisons, but haven't been a significant piece of the state'south prison pop for decades.

Today, there is just one other minor below IDOC jurisdiction — a 17-year-old girl who's on probation. Another juvenile is serving a blended sentence and is expected to be transferred to an adult facility at age 18.

Samuel has already done time in solitary. He spent more than three months in a 9-foot by 12-foot holding cell in a Kootenai County Jail when he was first charged.

Experts believe extended solitary confinement amounts to cruel and different punishment, and the American Civil Liberties Union of ID intervened on Samuel'south behalf, asking the Ct to move him to juvenile detention.

Eventually, a judge agreed and sent Samuel to a local detention facility until his trial was complete.

The teen is returning to solitary for at minimum the following several days, however, as he undergoes the same receiving and diagnostic process that all state prison inmates go through.

ACLU-Idaho spokesman Leo Morales said his organization is watching Samuel'south case closely.

"What this raises again is a serious issue with regards to our prisons in this state, an issue with how our judges sentence juveniles. We know that solitary confinement is really cruel and unusual, particularly for juveniles," Morales said.

IDOC research analyst Sean Falconer said in an email that the vast majority of people who came below IDOC custody as juveniles were sentenced to either probation or a so-called rider program, where they serve a few months in prison before they're evaluated for possible early probation.

Falconer said there are currently two hundred eighteen adults who came below IDOC jurisdiction as juveniles, including eighty-six inmates currently serving prison terms.

Juveniles are also a rarity in adult prisons nationwide.

The U. S. Dept of Justice'south Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that there are roughly 1.200 youths held in adult state prison facilities, according to a two thousand thirteen report. That'south less than a tenth of a % of all inmates.

And that no has been dropped dramatically over the past several years: Nearly 4.000 juveniles were held in state prisons in 2000.

Florida, New York, Georgia, CT and MI currently have the highest numbers, according to the BJS report.

In Idaho, juveniles charged with certain felonies are automatically tried as adults. But those that are sentenced are frequently given blended sentences, serving time in a juvenile detention middle until they become of age and can be transferred to an adult prison.

During Samuel'south sentencing hearing, Kootenai County Public Defender John Adams urged the judge to authorize the teen to stay in juvenile detention for now, emotional him to a prison when he turns nineteen or 21.

Adams cited Samuel'south traumatized upbringing: His father was abusive, both children were neglected and Samuel was in charge of caring for his autistic brother. His father also believed that a zombie apocalypse was imminent, and tried to train Samuel to fight off the monsters in case of a doomsday event, according to court testimony.

However, the judge well-known the seriousness of the crime. Samuel'south younger brother tried to cover below a bed, but Samuel found him and shot, stabbed and hacked the baby with a machete more than one hundred times.

The judge said he wasn't comfortable having the teen housed with other juvenile offenders, opting instead to house him in adult prison for the entirety of his sentence.

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