Articles Posted in Juvenile solitary confinement

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While prisons are designed to further purposes of deterrence and retribution, do those aims come with an unfettered right to abuse incarcerated individuals? 

In 2015, the nation was shocked to hear the story of Kalief Browder, a 16-year old wrongfully arrested for robbery who served two years in solitary confinement prior to trial.  After his release, Browder committed suicide.  A documentary entitled Time: The Kalief Browder Story, produced by iconic hip-hop rapper Jay-Z recounts Browder’s experience in Rikers and the psychological tortures of solitary confinement.[1]  In that same year, Terry Poole, a North Carolina inmate, committed suicide after serving time in solitary confinement.[2]  A recent article found that there are nearly 300 inmate suicide attempts in American jails and prisons every year.[3]  The statistical prevalence of suicide and suicide attempts increases for inmates in solitary confinement.[4] The deleterious physical and psychological effects of solitary confinement has wide-spread social science support[5], but is the repudiation of solitary confinement progressing rapidly enough?

Ultimately, Americans—by and through the casting of theiJuvenile-in-Cell-300x248r ballots—must decide whether the conviction of a crime, putting aside the heinousness of felony offenses generally, warrants an extraneous, additional punishment to include prolonged physical and psychological suffering.  Does the Eighth Amendment allow for carte blanche treatment of inmates?  Because of an adjudication of guilt, are prisoners properly cast into dark holes without recourse from our Constitution? I think not.

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Solitary_Confinement-225x300The archaic practice of isolating humans for days, weeks, months, and even years is an ongoing practice in prisons across the United States. Unsurprisingly, locking up juveniles alone can cause severe mental health issues in their developing minds.

The Depraved Conduct of U.S. Prisons

The country responded in shock and awe when, in 2018, headlines revealed that a Californian couple kept 13 siblings shackled and captive in their home. Fed rarely, beaten often, and prohibited from contact with the outer world, the prosecutor on the case noted, “this is severe, emotional, physical abuse. … This is depraved conduct.” So why is the same treatment inside the walls of a detention facility considered less abusive? Juveniles in solitary confinement are routinely denied nearly all human contact, education, and mental health treatment. Instead, they are left alone, deprived of sight and sound in a cement cell.

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