Target: Mr. Eric Holder, United States Attorney General
Goal: Improve the deplorable conditions at a Juvenile detention center in Baltimore.
Juveniles awaiting trial are being kept in solitary confinement for an average of 13 days, an amount of time that officials and psychologists say can cause serious mental damage, especially to the developing minds of teenagers. The detention center in question has been visited and reviewed several times over the course of the last ten years and the living conditions for prisoners, in this case teenagers, have improved little. The issues at this facility run deeply through it and something must be done to get these children, criminals though they may be, humane living conditions.
The famous Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky was once quoted as saying: “You can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners.” In this case there are juveniles being kept in isolation for weeks on end, not being given proper treatment for drug addictions, and being given almost no programs for rehabilitation or anger management. This detention center is essentially just a holding pen for a group of people that society has deemed “undesirable.” These teenagers are being treated worse than cattle. What does that say about our society?
To compound and worsen these issues, there are almost no on-site staff with training in adolescent development, adolescent psychology, trauma treatment, or mental health and disability rehabilitation. What kind of place is this? Prisons are meant to reform criminals, especially children, who with the proper rehabilitation could lead productive and healthy lives.
Something must be done about the conditions at this facility and it must be done immediately. Please sign here to demand that the Federal Department of Justice intervene and save these children from a lifetime of serious mental health issues.
Dear Attorney General Holder,
It has come to my attention that there is a juvenile detention facility located in Baltimore with deplorable, arguably inhumane, living conditions. I understand that the inhabitants of this facility are allegedly criminals, but that does not in any way justify keeping a human being in solitary confinement for well over 100 days.
I hope this is as shocking to you as it is to me, and while this point may be a statistical outlier, the average time spent in isolation for breaking a rule in this facility is 13 days. Psychologists and Federal officials have deemed this to be a dangerous practice that could do serious damage to the mental health of these children.
This is not what the prison system of a country is meant to be. Prisons are meant to rehabilitate people, especially children. Fyodor Dostoevsky once said, “You can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners.” What does this say about us, that we are willing to put children in a room, not offer them any rehabilitation services such as counselling or anger management, and then toss them in prison once they’re old enough?
It does not say anything good. I am writing to beg that you personally intervene in this matter by taking steps to change the policies of this facility immediately. Please help these children learn to help themselves.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Fariv8 via Wikimedia Commons