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Monday, February 2, 2015

This Is What Happens When We Lock Children in Solitary Confinement

By Dana Liebelson
Mother Jones
Originally published Jan/Feb 2015

Here are two excerpts:

While in isolation, Kenny—who was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder prior to the sixth grade—wrote to his mother, Melissa Bucher, begging her to make the two-hour drive to visit him. "I don't feel like I'm going to make it anymore," he wrote. "I'm in seclusion so I can't call and I'm prolly going to be in here for a while. My mind is just getting to me in here."

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THE PRACTICE OF ISOLATING PRISONERS is deeply rooted in American history. In 1787, a group of prison reformers joined by Benjamin Franklin argued that if inmates were left alone in silence, they would become repentant. This Quaker-inspired method resulted in the creation, in 1790, of a penitentiary house containing 16 solitary cells in Philadelphia's Walnut Street Jail. Some 50 years later, Charles Dickens visited the city's lockups, of which he wrote, "The system here is rigid, strict, and hopeless solitary confinement. I believe it, in its effects, to be cruel and wrong." In its most recent census of state and federal adult prisons, in 2005, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that nearly 82,000 men and women were in "restricted housing"—a lowball figure that doesn't include jails or immigration facilities.

The entire article is here.

Thanks to Deborah Derrickson Kossman for this contribution.