A judge Tuesday ruled a Boise juvenile charged as an adult with rape should be transferred out of the Ada County Jail to the county’s juvenile detention facility.
Ulimwengu Lupango, now 17 years old, will no longer remain in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.
He was one of four people arrested on suspicion of a February rape police and prosecutors believe occurred in Kuna. According to their investigation, Lupango, along with his brother, Elias Lupango, 19, Mulanga Rashidi, 18, and Swedi Iyombelo, 18, met with an 18-year-old woman in Kuna. Police and prosecutors say each of the teens forced themselves on her in a car there.
Rashidi, Iyombelo, and Elias were arrested Feb. 14. Ulimwengu, 16 at the time, was arrested the next morning. All had their bond set at $250,000.
In Idaho, rape is one of nine crimes for which juveniles are automatically tried as adults. Under Idaho law, a juvenile charged with any of those nine offenses is automatically held in an adult facility.
Yet Idaho law — as well as the the Prison Rape Elimination Act — demands officials keep juvenile inmates out of sight and earshot of adult inmates.
Thus, when Ulimwengu arrived at the Ada County Jail, he was placed in solitary confinement, according to court documents. According to an April 11 motion from his attorney, he remained his cell for 23 hours per day. In that motion, the attorney, Joseph Ellsworth, asked 4th District Court Judge Michael Reardon to have Ulimwengu moved to the Ada County Juvenile Detention center, where he could have in-person visits with his family.
“He is separated from his parents and his siblings and largely segregated from human contact,” the attorney wrote. “He does not have access to the programming, education or recreational time that the other inmates have access to, or is commonly provided to juveniles in detention.”
He noted a U.S. Department of Justice study found juveniles held in segregation exhibit symptoms of paranoia, anxiety and depression “even after very short periods of isolation.” The department has recommended ending the isolation of juveniles in custody, he wrote.
Deputies did provide Ulimwengu with the opportunity for recreation time, and it had to be separate from other inmates, according to court documents. Sometimes he turned the opportunity down. Deputies had to drive him to court in a separate vehicle.
While at the Ada County Jail, Ulimwengu, who turned 17 in April, told a social worker his brother was his reason for living.
“He says he saw his brother at court this week and it was somewhat helpful but it also made him sad,” the social worker wrote in April.
The social worker noted they discussed “the dynamics of being a juvenile in an adult setting,” and that Ulimewengu said he wanted to be transferred to a juvenile facility. He seemed depressed, and at one point he said he “just lays in bed all day.”
In court Tuesday, John Dinger, the case’s prosecutor, didn’t object to that.
“While it was a violent crime, since he’s been in custody he hasn’t committed any violence,” Dinger said. “He has had no problems whatsoever.”
While the judge granted the motion Tuesday, as of Wednesday Ulimwengu Lupango remains in the Ada County Jail, according to Patrick Orr, spokesman for the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.
He and the case’s co-defendants are scheduled to appear in court July 23. A jury trial is scheduled for August.