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Pres. Obama announces banning the use of solitary confinement against juveniles

January 26, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Pres. Obama announces banning the use of solitary confinement against juveniles

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President Obama revealed on Monday that the use of solitary confinement against juvenile inmates in federal custody will be banned.

In a Washington Post op-ed, the President cited the “lasting psychological consequences and devastating” impact it had on a teen previously held at Rikers Island jail in New York City as an example.

Also, Obama limited solitary confinement on adult prisoners who commit “low-level crimes” and plans to expand treatment programs for inmates who are mentally ill.

“How can we subject prisoners to unnecessary isolation, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people? It doesn’t make us safer. It’s an affront to our shared humanity,” Obama wrote.

Pro-reform groups are lauding the actions taken by the President, who say changes to the system have been long overdue.

Many have long called for banning use of solitary confinement because of the the psychological effects

Many have long called for banning use of solitary confinement because of the psychological effects

Glenn Martin, president of the correctional reform group Just Leadership USA, called Obama’s moves “courageous” and noted the measures society takes to protect teens.

“Young people can’t drive, they can’t smoke cigarettes, they can’t drink alcohol … When it comes to crime and punishment we seem willing to operate in ways that don’t take into account what the research shows us,” Martin said.

Martin cited studies, which shows how solitary confinement causes depression and inflicts psychological trauma in teenagers.

Obama used Kalief Browder, a Bronx teen who spent three years on Rikers awaiting trial on charges that would eventually end up getting dropped, as a reference in making the announcement.

While in jail at the age of 16 years old, Browder spent 400 days in solitary confinement and was the victim of brutal beatings in prison at the hands of both inmates and correction officers.

Haunting Memories: Obama mentioned Kalief Browder, who killed himself after he was released from Rikers. Browder spent more than 400 days in solitary confinement at Rikers.

Haunting Memories: Obama mentioned Kalief Browder, who killed himself after he was released from Rikers. Browder spent more than 400 days in solitary confinement at Rikers.

After his release from Rikers, Browder suffered from depression which led to multiple suicide attempts, prompting his admittance into the psych ward at Harlem Hospital.

In 2015, the haunting memories of his time in jail caught up with Browder, who ended up committing suicide at the age of 22, using an air conditioning cord.

Although Obama’s actions will affect a small number of teens, he hopes it would lead as an example for states to enact similar changes.

“We believe that when people make mistakes, they deserve the opportunity to remake their lives,” Obama wrote.

Last year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan that would eliminate solitary confinement for Rikers Island inmates 21 and younger. However, the plan has yet to be implemented.

 

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