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Solitary Confinement In Juvenile Prisons

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Humans are truly social creatures; not only do people crave social interaction, it is needed to survive. Why, then, would anyone deny something that is needed to survive to children? Everyday in the United States, there are hundreds, if not thousands of youth that are locked in solitary confinement. Solitary confinement is used as a form of punishment for prisoners who are acting out or breaking rules in jail. The process involves putting the person in a cell alone for 23 hours a day. They are given one hour a day for showering and recreation in a five by fifty foot cage. The cell has sparse furnishings, and seldom even has a window. The only interaction these people get is by yelling to inmates far away and hoping they will yell back or the…show more content…
Yet, it is something that could turn the tables in favor of banning solitary confinement in juveniles. Jail for youth is meant to be rehabilitative, whereas jail for adults is meant as punishment (Movement to End Juvenile Solitary Confinement Gains Ground, But Hundreds of Kids Remain in Isolation). When in jail, youth are supposed to be getting an education and rehabilitative programming in hopes that they will be able to acclimate and contribute to society when they are released at the age of 18. When they are placed in solitary confinement, they are denied all of this. They are alone for 23 hours a day, with often times nothing to occupy their minds. How is this considered rehabilitative? Many people say that if someone is put in solitary, they probably deserved it, or that it helps with the violence levels in prison. What they don’t know is that it can be used as punishment for almost anything, and it doesn’t actually decrease the violence levels in jail (Gawande). Instead, it creates catastrophic results. “More than 50 percent of suicides in juvenile facilities were committed by youth being held in isolation…” (Gawande). The life of a child is never worth the convenience of a jail. Not only does it create severe psychological damage, it also has no effect on violence levels in jail. For example, the British decided to give their most dangerous prisoners more control instead of less, and for good reason. When put into solitary, people become more aggressive and extremely territorial. Instead of punishing, they offered incentives, such as opportunities for education, work, and special programming aimed at increasing social ties and skills. With this new perspective on the issue of violence, they actually saw the levels of violence drop. Instead of punishing kids by scarring them for life, they should be given opportunities to improve themselves in the effort
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