Target: Attorney General Holder
Goal: End solitary confinement for minors.
Every year, thousands of youths under the age of 18 are held in solitary confinement across the country. Some are held in solitary for weeks or even months at a time. Many of them have been tried as adults and are put in solitary confinement as protection from adult prisoners, as well as a form of punishment.
Being put in solitary confinement means the kids have almost no interaction with any other kids or adults. They have very little stimulation, and often aren’t even provided books to keep them company. They are also barred from any beneficial prison programming such as educational classes and physical activities. They often only leave solitary to shower.
Being held in isolation takes an enormous psychological toll on anyone, but especially on kids whose minds are still developing. In solitary they are given no guidance, and no way of dealing with their emotions in a productive way. Having no human contact deprives these kids of the healthy interactions needed to be productive and functioning adults. Some emerge from solitary confinement unable to interact normally with others because they have gone so long without doing so. Many prison facilities require inmates to meet certain rehabilitation requirements before they can be released, and being placed in solitary can slow a child’s progress so they have more trouble in rehabilitation. Instead of putting youths in solitary confinement to protect them from adult prisoners, they should be held in special separate juvenile facilities where they have interaction with other kids, as well as counseling, education, and other healthy adult interaction.
Placing youths in solitary confinement, even as a protective measure, does more harm than good. Steps should be taken to make special juvenile facilities accessible, and youth solitary confinement should be banned.
Dear Attorney General Holder,
The solitary confinement of youths is a problem in the United States. Kids under the age of 18 being housed in adult prisons are often put into solitary confinement as a protective measure, but the negative social and psychological effects of solitary confinement outweigh any safety this may give them.
Some kids can be placed in solitary confinement for weeks or even months at a time. During their time in solitary, they are almost completely isolated, usually for a much as 22 hours a day or more. They have no healthy adult contact, or contact with their peers. They also do not have access to beneficial prison programs, such as physical activities and classes. Isolation and lack of stimulation makes it extremely hard for youths to function after solitary. If certain requirements must be met before inmates are released from prison, spending any extended amount of time in solitary can stunt their progress and make it hard for them to meet the full rehabilitation requirements.
Instead of placing youths in solitary confinement to protect them from adult prisoners, youths under 18 should be held in separate juvenile facilities with adequate access to counseling, education, and healthy interactions with peers and adults. Placing children in solitary confinement is wrong, and must be banned in the United States.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Dave Nakayama via flickr