Solitary Confinement is an important issue, especially for our juvenile correspondents. Enjoy the 1st of many articles regarding VA CURE issues from the high school perspective.
By Victoria N. Johnson
In August 2013, the United Nations made a list of what they consider torture, and solitary confinement made it on that list. Numerous countries signed the UN resolution, the US was not included. According to UN Human Rights about 80,000 prisoners in the US are in isolated cells. Some are there for short periods of time, years, and even decades. There are multiple movements to rid solitary confinement as a punishment, especially against the use as punishment for persons with mental disabilities and children. Solitary confinement varies depending on where you are incarcerated; you could be housed in cement or padded cells depending on behavior. Most only have an hour to exercise and there is no guarantee to have any kind of contact with another inmate.
“I Was Confined to Solitary at 16 and it Still Haunts Me” by Dwayne Betts hits close to home because Fairfax Country Jail is not far from me and my father was a corrections officer . Mr.Betts ordeal happened 17 years ago, he was sent to solitary confinement with no explanation or reasoning, spending in total over a year in and out of solitary confinement. Betts later quoted, “I watched grown men crack under the pressure of a solitary cell. I watched men beg for relief, strapped to a bed by their arms and legs.” Would you crack under the pressure from going hours to days at a time with no human to human interaction?
As a teenager, I feel solitary confinement is a form of child abuse. Our brains are still developing, and we are discovering who we are. Solitary confinement seriously affects how we act during incarceration and when released. I know many of my friends would not do well with solitary confinement. When teenagers are excluded from group activities, they feel isolated and have more potential for self harm. The negative effects of isolation are considered torture. We must find an alternative method to treat those of us who make mistakes when young.