“For each of the past five years, roughly 100,000 juveniles have been held in adult jails and prisons, according to data from the Department of Justice.”
“Ninety-one percent of the children who are serving time in adult jails and prisons are serving time in jails and prisons for crimes that are not murder, crimes that are not sex crimes,” he said. “Solitary confinement is pretty horrible for anybody, but it’s especially horrible for a child. It is psychological torture.”
‘The dark secret of the criminal justice system’
“Data on how many of those young people nationwide are held in solitary confinement isn’t available, but a report published this past October by Human Rights Watch and The American Civil Liberties Union said the New York City Department of Corrections, for example, reported that in fiscal year 2012, 14 percent of all detained adolescents were held in solitary at least once.
“I spoke to kids. They talked about being in a cell alone, the size of a parking space, the size of an elevator,” said Ian Kysel, who authored the HRW/ACLU report. “This is sort of the dark secret of the criminal justice system. … Jails and prisons don’t make available their data on solitary confinement.”
At New York City’s Riker’s Island, the average length of solitary confinement for youths last year was 43 long, 23-hour days, according to Kysel’s report.
The catch-22 of being prosecuted as adults but segregated from the adult prison population because they are still minors is literally making young offenders go out of their minds — and many of them have mental health issues before they are put in isolation, according to the HRW/ACLU report.
Stuart Grassian, a Boston-based psychiatrist who is an expert on solitary confinement, cites CIA research done in the 1950s, which found solitary confinement made American prisoners of war in North Korea go psychotic.
“What was produced by that was a person who was so unhinged, he was confused, disoriented, disheveled,” he told NBC News, “They wouldn’t sometimes know who they were. They couldn’t think.”
Kysel, the author of the report on adolescents in adult prisons, has called for youth solitary confinement to be banned and for other punishments — such as taking away privileges — to be instituted instead. Grassian agrees that this is necessary.
“You have these kids getting more and more out of control, more and more impulsive, more and more emotionally out of control because they’re in solitary. It’s very likely that’s going to be a permanent impairment in their lives,” he said. “Well, guess what? Ninety-five percent of them are gonna get out back into your community. What do you want them to be like when they get out?”
Full Article Available Here on NBCNews
- The Hidden History of Solitary Confinement in New Jersey’s Control Units (moorbey.wordpress.com)
- ACLU Releases Report on Solitary Confinement Reform in Maine (lascrucescarpenter.wordpress.com)
- Florida Bill Would Limit Use of Solitary Confinement on Children (childreninprison.wordpress.com)