Success: President Obama Ends Solitary Confinement for Minors

Target: President of the United States Barack Obama

Goal: Applaud ban on traumatizing and overused solitary confinement for juvenile offenders.

Juvenile offenders will no longer be subject to solitary confinement thanks to enormous public pressure and ForceChange petitions. President Barack Obama recently announced the ban, which will be implemented nationwide. In his announcement, Obama claimed that the practice had ruinous psychological consequences on young people and was often used more than necessary.  This decision will impact approximately 10,000 inmates.

Solitary confinement is a punishment normally reserved for the most serious offenders. When in solitary confinement, children have almost no interaction with anyone else.  They have little access to sources of entertainment, often being denied basic privileges such as books.  They are also banned from participating in any type of beneficial prison programs, including physical recreation and educational classes. In many cases, these juvenile inmates only leave solitary when it’s time to shower.

Children under 18 who have experience solitary confinement are far more vulnerable to lasting emotional damage and higher rates of suicide.“The United States is a nation of second chances,” the president said, “but the experience of solitary confinement too often undercuts that second chance.”

Placing minors in solitary confinement has a clearly detrimental effect. Thank President Obama for his proactive approach in ending this practice in federal detention centers.


Dear President Obama,

I am writing to applaud your decision to end solitary confinement for minors. A practice normally reserved for the most serious offenders, solitary confinement prevents children from interacting with almost anyone else and denies them access to the most basic privileges, such as books. They are also banned from participating in any type of beneficial prison programs.

As you noted in your announcement, placing children in solitary confinement is extremely detrimental to the rehabilitation process, as minors placed in solitary have a much higher rate of suicide and are far more vulnerable to lasting emotional damage. While prison is meant to be a punishment, it also meant to help offenders learn the error of their ways and prepare them for re-entry into society. Thank you for taking such a progressive stance on this issue.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Luis Argerich

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