In 2012, the U.S. Attorney General appointed a national task force on children exposed to violence that concluded, “Nowhere is the impact of incarceration on vulnerable children more obvious than when it involves solitary confinement.” This statement still holds true and solitary confinement bears an even heavier impact on incarcerated youth today.
At the midpoint of the 180-mile March for Justice, its organizer, Soffiyah Elijah, was overwhelmed. She was simultaneously trying to find the proper turn on a back road in a Hudson Valley town, coordinate with the caretaker of a 105-year-old woman who wanted to join the march and figure out where to find a laundromat that would stay open late.
Meranda Davis knows her daughter hasn’t always been an angel. Auto theft, assaults, wild tantrums in court left a judge little choice but to send the 15-year-old to Copper Lake School for Girls, one of Wisconsin’s two juvenile detention facilities.
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.