Home » Kids’ Detention Center Sued for Alleged Horrors Like ‘Baby Shark’ on Repeat

Kids’ Detention Center Sued for Alleged Horrors Like ‘Baby Shark’ on Repeat

A youth detention center in Kentucky was sued this week on allegations it operated a house of horrors that “violate the Geneva Convention,” which included claims it forced children into solitary confinement for extended periods and used forms of apparent psychiatric torture.

The mistreatment allegedly occurred inside the Adair County Youth Detention Center, in rural southern Kentucky. The lawsuit said that naked bodies of girls were “exposed to male view” on multiple occasions, including during cell checks and showers.

Other detainees, which were all younger than 18, were forced to spend weeks in solitary confinement, the lawsuit claimed, with one child alleging their cell’s window to the outside was covered while the Spanish version of “Baby Shark” played on a loop.

Detainees reported being held in isolation cell without access to basic hygiene and necessary medicine, the lawsuit claimed.

“Defendants regularly held children in lockdown for days or weeks at a time,” the lawsuit said. “While locked down, children in the Detention Center would eat, sleep, and defecate in their cells.”

The detained children were also given no education while behind bars aside from workbooks which gave no class credit, the lawsuit alleges, and some cells were infested with insects. The lawsuit says one detainee wasn’t given feminine hygiene products as needed, and was left to sit for days “soaked in menstrual blood” while staff told her she “was nasty” and “smelled like fish.”

The lawsuit alleged that a suicidal child was forced to live in a padded cell without a working toilet or bed for two months. Despite being diagnosed with mental health issues, the lawsuit said that child—and others—received no mental health care while in custody.

The lawsuit was filed in a Kentucky federal court on Monday by Jamiahia Kennedy and Willow Neal, who are former detainees at the facility. They are seeking damages from the facility, the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice, the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and individual facility leaders.

They are seeking class-action status to represent “potentially hundreds” of other kids who were detained at the Adair Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

The women’s attorney, Laura Landenwich, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that her clients were treated as “sub-human” at the detention center.

The Department of Juvenile Justice has not yet been served with the lawsuit and had no comment on it, a spokesperson told the Herald-Leader in a statement.

“DJJ works tirelessly to provide safe and effective services to the juveniles in its care,” the statement said. “For any staff member who violates policy and procedure, corrective action is taken.”

A voicemail left at a number listed for the Adair County Youth Detention Center by The Daily Beast was not returned on Wednesday.

The lawsuit said the facility is “chronically understaffed,” having often operated with only five employees—who the lawsuit claims weren’t properly trained for their positions—to oversee as many as 40 kids.

This staffing problem is likely why so many kids are sent into isolated cells for extended periods, the lawsuit suggested. That allegedly included Neal being held in isolation while she was seven months pregnant, against the urging of medical advisors telling the facility she shouldn’t be placed there in the late stages of her pregnancy, the lawsuit said.

Problems at the facility had reached the public eye in recent months through news reports, including an instance in November where an 18-year-old man was charged as an adult in connection to a rape committed during a riot at the facility, WAVE 3 reported.

At the time of the riot, WAVE 3 reported that three former staff members said that “teen girls were held in the same block as teen boys, staff caused physical and mental harm to inmates, and teens were deprived of showers for weeks at a time.”

Two months prior, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky asked the feds to step in and investigate the detention facility in Adair County after disturbing rumors about the living conditions being “unsanitary and nearly uninhabitable” began to leak out.


January 2024