Placing Juveniles in Solitary Confinement Makes Them Worse

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From USA TODAY: “Research shows that solitary confinement can cause rage and frustration, leading youth who experience it to act out. And thousands of juveniles are subjected to solitary confinement every year. Almost half of all secure juvenile facilities in America use isolation to control behavior.

A child in solitary confinement spends hours, days, weeks or even months isolated in a cell. A typical solitary cell is smaller than a parking space and contains nothing but a bed, a sink and a toilet. Children in solitary don’t attend school; they often don’t receive counseling, family contact or treatment.

Not surprisingly, these conditions are profoundly destructive, leading a significant number of young people to cut themselves, engage in other forms of self-harm, or take their own lives.

In addition to depression and anxiety, solitary can also cause sleeplessness and long lasting trauma. Isolation is harmful for anyone, but particularly for adolescents whose ongoing development depends on social interaction. And it doesn’t work. In fact, decreased reliance on solitary is linked to increased facility safety. […]

[Activist Eddie] Ellis was able to get beyond his childhood experiences. He has been out of prison for 12 years and is now married with children.

But he cautions that isolating youth risks permanent damage: ‘You may be really destroying these kids emotionally and mentally before they have a chance to mature as people. Some of these kids may not be able to recover.'”

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