By Seth Richardson
Fifteen-year-old murder suspect John Caudle is being held in solitary confinement with little or no contact with the outside world. Charged as an adult in the murder of his parents last October, Caudle cannot be lodged with adult inmates at the Rio Grande County jail, and his social interactions are limited to occasional fifteen-minute visits with friends and four-hour-a-week meetings with his court-appointed guardian.
Attempts by his guardian to require the school district to provide mandatory education have been stone-walled by the school district, claiming that they are waiting for Caudle to “return from his mental health evaluation,” according to a story in the Denver Post on Monday, October 25, 2010. Problem is, Caudle hasn’t gone anywhere, and sits in a jail cell, alone. The prosecution has resisted all attempts by his guardian to have him moved to a juvenile facility while awaiting trial, and the court has dragged its feet for a year. This is unacceptable.
Now, murdering one’s parents is a heinous crime, but it’s important, vitally important to note that Caudle is, at the moment, not guilty of the crime. He is a presumptively innocent teenager who has been accused of the crime. The evidence against him is compelling enough to justify holding him without bail, according to the law, but he is still innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of his peers.
What this means is that the Rio Grande County Sheriff, and the prosecutors, have a legal duty and obligation to respect Caudle’s civil rights, one of which is to receive a free education from the state. In fact, as another long article in the same edition of the Denver Post points out, Colorado law requires children to attend school, and they, and their parents, can be hauled into court and even jailed for truancy, which means missing more than four unexcused absences in a month, or more than 10 in a school year. So Caudle, through no fault of his own, is breaking the law by not attending school.
Moreover, holding a child in solitary confinement, if done by a parent, clearly qualifies as felony child neglect and abuse, and any parent doing this to a child would be arrested and jailed.
Well, it’s time to arrest and jail every single person who has contributed to, or has had knowledge of and a legal duty to report the ongoing abuse of John Caudle and failed to report it to child protective services. These heartless criminals need to be punished for abusing a child who has not yet been judged guilty in a court of law.
There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for this ongoing illegal abuse of a presumed-to-be innocent child. He cannot be punished without due process of law, but that’s exactly what’s happening.
Caudle’s legal guardian should immediately file for a Writ of Habeas Corpus before the United States Supreme Court alleging violation of Caudle’s constitutional rights under color of authority, charging every person involved who has failed to protect him while awaiting trial.
The presumption of innocence demands that those accused, but not convicted of a crime, no matter how heinous or inflammatory to the community, be treated with due respect for their constitutional rights, which in the case of Caudle include a right to social interaction and a public education, as well as freedom from solitary confinement and isolation that would under any other circumstances be considered felony child abuse.
© 2010 Altnews