At our country’s 240th birthday, I am reminded of our forefathers’ preamble to the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Each year, thousands of children are subjected to solitary confinement in juvenile facilities and adult jails and prisons. Solitary confinement — also known as room confinement, seclusion, isolation or segregation — is the involuntary placement of a youth alone in a cell, room or other area for any reason.
Young people who get in trouble with the law and who may move around frequently, often have trouble accessing and sharing accurate, up-to-date versions of their medical records. As a result, they don’t always get the vaccinations they need nor the follow-up care they require to manage chronic conditions like asthma, sexually transmitted diseases, and mental health or substance abuse issues. Allowing young people to access their medical histories in a digital format through the Internet could solve this problem, researchers hope. Under federal reforms to the health care system, more and more medical practitioners are switching to electronic recordkeeping, and according to a study released in October by the journal Pediatrics, incarcerated teenagers appeared surprisingly open to the idea. Researchers from the Stanford University medical school and the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center interviewed 79 incarcerated young people who came to the medical center for treatment.