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JJC lawsuit:11-year-old with special needs held in solitary confinement:

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

The family of an 11-year-old boy who was held at the Juvenile Justice Center under solitary confinement has filed a lawsuit against the facility.

The lawsuit claims the boy, who has special needs, spent the majority of his four months in the center alone in isolation.

“Take an 11-year-old, take him out of his home, take him away from his family, cut off all contact with them, and put them in a jail cell and all he has is a mattress. And now imagine it's a child who already had emotional illness prior. It's something that never should've happened,” says the family’s attorney Charlie Rice.

Rice says what happened to that boy is something that never should have happened, but happens to many kids at the facility. Rice blames proper care of children with special needs on a lack of appropriate resources.

But, Rice says the time spent in solitary confinement can have lasting effects on a child. The lawsuit cites a high rate of depression and suicide among children who have spent time in solitary confinement.

Rice says it’s a cut and dry case. State laws aren’t specific enough to cover this issue, but, the federal court mandates certain standards.

Now, Rice is hoping to change how the JJC operates long-term.

With the facility in a constant battle for funding , he’s hoping the lawsuit will ensure appropriate funds  to properly equip and staff the center.

‘For juvenile justice system every dime that they need to not only take care of the building start taking care of these kids in a constitutionally compliant manner,” says Rice.

ABC 57 News has reached out to the center and the county attorney but they have not yet returned calls for a comment.

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