Children as young as 13 are being held in solitary confinement up to 23 hours a day across the United States.
To draw attention to this treatment of detained juveniles, the American Civil Liberties Union has released a new video depicting the inside of a solitary confinement cell, along with a petition to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder calling for a ban on solitary confinement of juveniles in federal custody.
The video depicts a mostly bare 8-foot-long concrete cell with a concrete slab for a bed and a boy in an orange jumpsuit lying on it.
A narrator intones: “Can’t write home. Can’t visit, even with family. Trapped for weeks, months or even years with almost no human contact.
“Hypersensitivity, insomnia, anxiety attacks, self harm, suicide,” the narrator says, as the video shows the blade of a sharp object.
The ACLU joined with 40 advocacy groups in a campaign this year to pressure Holder to ban solitary confinement of youths in federal custody. The ACLU says doing so would set an important precedent for states to follow suit.
As JJIE.org has reported, the ACLU and Human Rights Watch released a report last year harshly criticizing solitary confinement of juveniles, saying it can cause irreparable psychological harm to youths at a time when their brains are not fully developed.
Solitary has been used in juvenile facilities and on minors sentenced to adult jails and prisons.