Target: Sylvia L. Murray, Director, South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice
Goal: Immediately release boys from solitary confinement after they’ve been shackled there for six weeks.
Four young boys have been shackled in solitary confinement for six weeks with little human contact and almost no access to recreation and educational resources. A group of boys in a juvenile detention center were approached by guards for “roughhousing,” and when the boys refused to be taken to solitary confinement, their dorm was locked down, trapping 27 kids in the area. When the youngsters started acting out by breaking things, stealing snacks, and taking keys to unlock their shackles, they were then thrown into solitary confinement for “rioting.”
Most of the boys were released from solitary confinement after four weeks, but four of them are still languishing there with no indication of when they’ll be released back into the general detention center. It’s worth noting that this center is just 30 minutes away from Spring Valley High School where a police officer was caught on video violently choking, throwing, dragging, and arresting a teen girl who was sitting unmoving in her classroom desk.
The use of solitary confinement on adults has been attacked for its devastating effects on mental health and general well-being. Inmates are locked in a tiny, windowless cell for 23 hours per day. This is especially detrimental to children as they lose access to even the sub-par educational resources provided to them by the detention center.
Children are much more vulnerable to psychological damage as their brains are still developing. If it’s being found that solitary confinement is unsuitable for adults, it should never be used on minors. Sign this petition to demand that these four kids are immediately released from solitary and that the detention center cease using it as a punishment.
Dear Director Murray,
Four children are currently staying in solitary confinement at the Broad River Road Complex in Columbia. They’re spending 23 hour per day in tiny, windowless cells, shackled anywhere they go. They lack access to even the basic educational resources they need to have any hope of keeping up with their classmates on the outside.
More and more evidence is emerging about the damaging effects of solitary confinement on the human mind. Adults trapped in solitary confinement experience significant psychological distress that stays with them even after they’re released. These effects will be even worse for children as their brains are still developing.
Kids in juvenile detention have a hard enough time keeping up with the education they need to prevent them from ending up back in the prison system. Keeping them in solitary confinement where they can’t study at all is absolutely criminal. We demand that you immediately release these four boys from solitary and work to end the use of this inhumane punishment on the children in your juvenile detention centers.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Henry Hagnäs