Widespread use of solitary confinement of youth under the age of 18 in prisons and jails across the U.S. constitutes “state sponsored child abuse,” according to Solomon Comissiong, an American author, community activist and educator.
“Solitary confinement of kids is “beyond cruel and unwarranted and inhumane punishment and it goes on unabated,” Comissiong said by phone on Thursday.
He said it is a “humongous hypocrisy” that the U.S. lectures other countries about their human rights record and yet it routinely commits all sorts of human rights abuses.
According to a report released Wednesday by the Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), young people are held in solitary confinement in jails and prisons across the United States, often for weeks or months at a time.
The 141-page report, “Growing Up Locked Down: Youth in Solitary Confinement in Jails and Prisons Across the United States,” is based on research in both U.S. jails and prisons in five states - Colorado, Florida, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania - and correspondence with young people in 14 others.
The isolation of solitary confinement causes anguish, provokes serious mental and physical health problems, and works against rehabilitation for teenagers, Human Rights Watch and the ACLU found.
“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 Human Rights Watch and the ACLU and author of the report. “Normal human interaction is essential to the healthy development and rehabilitation of young people; to cut that off helps nobody.”