Kids in Adult Jails: Almost Half States Stopping Practice

By BitcoDavid

Juvenile Girl in Prison by Richard Ross. Photo credit http://www.businessinsider.com/richard-ross-juvenile-in-justice-2012-10
The artist in me just loves this picture. It so beautifully expresses the waste and futility of long term confinement of minors. Juvenile Girl in Prison by Richard Ross. Photo credit
Business Insider

The Campaign for Youth Justice just released a report that states that a number of legislative bodies in America have revisited the concept of warehousing teen offenders in adult facilities. America detains 70,000 youths per day — WaPo. There are now numerous bodies of evidence that this practice not only keeps the offenders from completing their education, but actually adds to the likelihood that they will grow up to be career criminals.

Of those 70,000, a large number are housed in adult facilities – with predatory, hardened adults. The suicide rate for these teens is 36 times greater than that of minors housed in juvenile facilities — NYT.

Psychologists now know that the Human brain doesn’t completely develop until the mid-twenties. While it is true that young people are capable of committing heinous crimes, and that punishment – as a factor of rehabilitation – is necessary, punishing a child by the same guidelines as one punishes an adult, is unfair to both the child, and to society as a whole. We will never know the contributions that may have been made by bad kids who turned their lives around.

http://accesslocal.tv/2011/07/09/kids-should-not-be-put-on-death-trials/children-in-prison-juvenile-incarceration-photo-by-steve-liss4/
Steve Liss

Kids enter adult facilities, scared and unprepared. They are likely to get into fights, or in some other way, break rules. This results in solitary confinement. Numerous studies show that even the strongest of adults are mentally unequipped to deal with the privations of solitary. Undeveloped teenage brains cannot withstand the agony of this form of punishment. The kids come out scarred and damaged – if they come out at all.

Another problem with housing juveniles in adult facilities is that of rape, and other forms of sexual brutality. Excuse my bluntness here, but the simple fact is, young people are a prized commodity in the sexual marketplace within American prisons. Many are immediately sold into sexual slavery, and none of them have developed the skills to be able to protect themselves in those situations. They walk through the doors as victims in waiting, and are immediately preyed upon.

Often this leads to a cyclic abuse state, where the minor – upon release – becomes an abuser. I am reminded of a story once relayed to me. A young man was placed in what was at that time a juvenile facility. The initiation process involved the other inmates taking turns at kicking him in the genitals. The young man’s testicles ruptured and he ended up requiring medical castration. When a new inmate arrived, did the protagonist of my story refrain from imposing the same tragedy on the new boy? No. On the contrary, his fellow inmates were actually shocked at his savagery. The abused had become an abuser.

Documenting Reality
Documenting Reality

We have a lot of problems in America, and crime is certainly one of them. Victims rights groups are correct in pointing out that innocent people suffer at the hands of offenders. I know of a case in which a retired couple were robbed and killed in their home. The offender, a juvenile, wanted their car. The heartless brutality of the incident jolted the neighborhood. Many believe that the teenage perpetrator deserves nothing less than life in prison.

I can’t agree. Taking nothing from the suffering of the elderly couple, I believe that this teenager could have been helped – and could have turned his life around. Perhaps he would have become a social worker or a volunteer. Perhaps he would have felt that he owed that much to his 2 victims – an atonement. As it was, he became yet another male whore in an adult facility – where he died by his own hand.

Below, I have embedded the entire report. My appreciation to the Campaign for Youth Justice, the WaPo and the NYT for help with this article.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

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