NBC Special Report tonight on juveniles placed in solitary confinement

March 22, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

NBC News is reporting this evening that:

For each of the past five years, roughly 100,000 juveniles have been held in adult jails and prisons, according to data from the Department of Justice.

Defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Montgomery, Ala.-based Equal Justice Initiative, told NBC these youths are getting unfairly harsh treatment for the crimes they commit.

“Ninety-one percent of the children who are serving time in adult jails and prisons are serving time in jails and prisons for crimes that are not murder, crimes that are not sex crimes,” he said. “Solitary confinement is pretty horrible for anybody, but it’s especially horrible for a child. It is psychological torture.”

When juveniles are locked up with adults, they may be placed in protective custody, which means solitary confinement.

Sometimes they commit suicide because they cannot handle solitary.

Human Rights Watch and The American Civil Liberties Union published a report last October that included information collected by the New York City Department of Corrections. For example, in fiscal year 2012, 14 percent of all detained adolescents were held in solitary at least once.

Ian Kysel, the author of the report said,

I spoke to kids. They talked about being in a cell alone, the size of a parking space, the size of an elevator. This is sort of the dark secret of the criminal justice system. … Jails and prisons don’t make available their data on solitary confinement.

According to Kysel, the average length of solitary confinement for youths locked up last year at Ryker’s Island was 43 days.

Solitary confinement is torture. NBC reports,

Stuart Grassian, a Boston-based psychiatrist who is an expert on solitary confinement, cites CIA research done in the 1950s, which found solitary confinement made American prisoners of war in North Korea go psychotic.

“What was produced by that was a person who was so unhinged, he was confused, disoriented, disheveled,” he told NBC News, “They wouldn’t sometimes know who they were. They couldn’t think.”

For more information watch Ted Koppel’s full report tonight on teenagers in solitary confinement on “Rock Center With Brian Williams” Friday, March 22, at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT.


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