As the national fever of mass incarceration continues across America. every so often, a break occurs.
This was such from the unlikeliest of places: Mississippi. For there, quite recently, a U.S. federal court issued a consent decree, banning the ignoble and barbarous practice of placing juveniles–children- in solitary confinement.
The late March order, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, bans a system that consigned children to almost total isolation–the kind that have become virtually routine in America’s adult prisons.
This practice, used against children who were certified as adults, resulted in exacerbated mental illnesses, psychological breakdowns and suicide attempts (which. oddly enough, resulted in even more repression!).
Under international law solitary confinement can constitute torture. Imagine its impact on children.
A joint suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Southern Poverty Law Center. challenged these conditions in a November 2010 civil rights action against Mississippi’s Wal-nut Grove Youth Correctional Authority (WGYCA), a private prison which holds males aged 13 to 22. The suit charged brutality, drug smuggling by guards and sexual improprieties by them.
The consent decree also bans juveniles from placement in the facility.
What kind of country consigns its children to the horrors of solitary confinement?