End Juvenile Solitary Confinement
This petition made change with 68,845 supporters!
While serving time in New York's prisons, I spent years in solitary confinement. Out of sight and invisible to other human beings. I started to draw portraits because in the extreme isolation, I dreamed of people, of faces.
Juvenile solitary confinement is the Human Rights issue of today. Across America we spend $8 billion per year incarcerating our youth.
Solitary confinement is cruel. It can result in profound neurological and psychological damage to young people. In 2012, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry called for an end to the practice. Even President Obama has spoken out about it.
Yet every day, we’re putting thousands of kids, some as young as 11 years old, into solitary. Something needs to be done.
President Obama can take action to ban solitary confinement of juveniles. And Congress has can pass legislation like the Mercy Act or Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, both are bipartisan bills that would limit the use of solitary confinement for minors.
According to the Department of Justice, up to 17,000 youths are held in isolation in juvenile jails. Often they’re put in solitary as punishment for a minor rule violation. I know all about this -- guards gave me tickets like penny candy. When I tried to use artwork to stay sane, I was ticketed for having too many pencils. Another time, I had too many postage stamps.
Solitary changed me. I have irreparable memory damage. Like me, 70% of kids incarcerated inside of solitary confinement suffer from mental illness. Moreover, a child's brain is not fully developed to withstand the extreme isolation of solitary confinement.
So please help me to get the President of this great country address this practice that the United Nations has deemed cruel and unusual punishment and on top costs each American citizen $50,000 - $80,000 per year per child.
This is not something we should be doing to so many children in America. Let’s make America adhere to international human rights standards of torture and ban solitary confinement for our youth.
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