ACLU Asks Judge to Find Territory in Contempt for Jail Conditions

The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge on Thursday to find the U.S. Virgin Islands in contempt for holding non-convicted, mentally ill people in the same jail as convicts.

Jailing people ruled unfit to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity with convicts was "abysmal" and often resulted in violence, Eric Balaban, an attorney with the ACLU's National Prison Project, wrote in a motion filed in District Court.

Their stays at the jail in St. Croix "are chaotic, marked by violent confrontations with both fellow prisoners and staff," he said.

The jail also has failed to fix health and safety problems that it agreed to improve 12 years ago under a settlement with the ACLU, Balaban said.

Virgin Islands Attorney General Kerry Drue did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

U.S. judges have found the Virgin Islands government in contempt three times for failing to improve conditions at the jail, as mandated by the settlement.

It was not clear when a judge might rule on the motion.