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Thousands of U.S. teen inmates in isolation

Thu, Nov 1, 2012

Thousands of young detainees are being held in solitary confinement in jails and prisons across the United States, for weeks, months or even years with virtually no human contact or meaningful motivation, according to a joint report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released Wednesday.

The report, entitled Growing Up Locked Down, investigates jails and prisons in states such as Colorado, Florida, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania, among others, and is based on interviews and correspondence with more than 127 young people subjected to solitary confinement, as well as prison officials.

“Locking kids in solitary confinement with little or no contact with other people is cruel, harmful and unnecessary,” said Ian Kysel, Aryeh Neier Fellow with HRW and the ACLU and author of the report.

The HRW and the ACLU estimate that, as of 2011, roughly 95,000 adolescents were kept in prisons and jails, comprising a large number of young inmates nationwide who find themselves in conditions of solitary confinement on a daily basis.

Out of 127 investigated young detainees, 49 have reported spending between one and six months in isolation while under age 18, while 29 said that they spent longer than six months in solitary confinement.

“Many facilities use it to protect young people from adults. Because there are fewer girls than boys in the adult criminal justice system, officials may be more likely to have only one girl in their jail, for example, and hold them in solitary because they feel they have no other option. But there is never a justification for holding a young person in their cell for 22 or 24 hours at a time,” Kysel added.

From the International Press Service

StreetWise magazine is proud to provide WorldWise content republished by the International Network of Street Papers’ independent Street News Service. This service features stories submitted by the 100+ street papers around the world in an effort to raise awareness for homelessness and bring a voice to the underserved.


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