Target: Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City
Goal: Demand the Rikers Island Prison to treat its juvenile detainees more humanely
Adolescent inmates are regularly subjected to horrific mistreatment at the hands of prison authorities, according to recent report on the Rikers Island Juvenile Detention Center in New York. New York is one of only two states that prosecutes 16- and 17-year-old individuals as adults, and its treatment of detained juveniles is in no way humane.
One of the most controversial characteristics of Rikers Island Prison’s policies is its excessive use of solitary confinement to discipline inmates. Around a quarter of the juvenile inmates have undergone solitary confinement, with some being confined for 23 hours. Although New York officials say they are planning to phase out solitary confinement for juveniles by the end of the year, critics are pushing for a faster change.
Former juvenile detainees also reported that the correctional officers do not support the inmates. They are slow to break apart fights between inmates, and urge them to refrain from reporting personal injuries from fighting to the infirmary. Reports also indicate that correctional officers often use excessive physical force with the inmates, which frequently result in injuries.
Previous attempts to change the juveniles inmates’ conditions by establishing smaller centers in New York City were met with strong resistance from local communities. Rough handling and encouraging violence among juvenile inmates is counterintuitive to the facility’s final goal of successfully reintegrating them into society upon their release. Please sign this petition to push for more humane conditions at Rikers Island Prison. The juveniles, some as young as 16 years old, deserve better treatment, including care and support, to help them reach their full potentials as peaceful, productive, and happy members of society.
Dear Mayor de Blasio,
Reading about the poor treatment of the juveniles at the Rikers Island Juvenile Detention Center was disturbing. Kids as young as 16 years old are subjected to a culture of violence. With correctional officers who treat them in inhumane ways by overusing solitary confinement and physical abuse, these inmates come to believe that the world is a cold, cruel, and violent place.
Please look into finding more humane methods of handling these adolescents. Juveniles need support and care and to be reassured that they do not have to resort to crime to live in our society. These juveniles deserve better living conditions and a fighting chance at changing their lives for the better.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: jaggededge27 via Flickr