US President Barack Obama has announced to ban solitary confinement of juveniles in federal prisons. He said the practice is overused and can cause long- lasting and devastating psychological consequences, especially in the young and the mentally-ill.
The announcement was made by the POTUS in an op-ed in The Washington Post that titled “Why we must rethink solitary confinement.” And the move is expected to have a direct impact on some 10000 prisoners held in solitary confinement in US.
“These include banning solitary confinement for juveniles and as a response to low-level infractions, expanding treatment for the mentally ill and increasing the amount of time inmates in solitary can spend outside of their cells,” Obama wrote.
In the write up, Obama says, as many as 25,000 inmates are serving months, even years of their sentences alone in a tiny cell, with almost no human contact.
Research suggests that solitary confinement has the potential to lead to devastating, lasting psychological consequences, he said. “It has been linked to depression, alienation, withdrawal, a reduced ability to interact with others and the potential for violent behavior. Some studies indicate that it can worsen existing mental illnesses and even trigger new ones.
Prisoners in solitary are more likely to commit suicide, especially juveniles and people with mental illnesses,” the president wrote.
Observing that the US is a nation of second chances, but the experience of solitary confinement too often undercuts that second chance, Obama wrote that those who do make it out often have trouble holding down jobs, reuniting with family and becoming productive members of society.
“Imagine having served your time and then being unable to hand change over to a customer or look your wife in the eye or hug your children,” he said. He wrote that reforming solitary confinement is just one part of a broader bipartisan push for criminal justice reform.