In just the last month or so, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) joined a growing list of national organizations calling for an end to the solitary confinement of young people in this country.
California takes a historic step forward this month as it moves to enact restrictions on the use of solitary confinement in state and local facilities for youth — curbing a manifest violation of human rights and protecting its youth from the trauma of isolated confinement.
"After just 24 hours, I testify that solitary confinement is hell on earth. Solitary confinement is legalized torture," says Anyssa Williams, a Georgia State University student who spent 24 hours in an 8 by 8 cell replica for a school assignment.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion Tuesday that bans the use of solitary confinement — in all but the most exceptional circumstances — in all the county’s juvenile detention facilities.
I arrived at the Anamosa Iowa Men’s Reformatory in October 1992. I can still remember riding in the van, wearing a set of cold steel shackles and handcuffs attached to a long dog chain that went around my waist and attached to a black box. The black box was padlocked around the cuffs, immobilizing my hands.
Solitary confinement is a practice that has been used in the U.S. prison system since 1829. It is based on a Quaker belief that prisoners isolated in stone cells with only a Bible use the time to repent, pray and find introspection.