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Report: Nebraska Routinely Holds Children in Solitary Confinement

Posted on Jan 7, 2016

Alex / CC BY 2.0

A civil rights report reveals that young offenders in Nebraska’s detention facilities are sometimes put in isolation for days, weeks or months for “relatively minor infractions.”

Mental health professionals confirm that treating children this way does more to turn them into disturbed criminals who are dependent upon and threaten society and those around them than it does to “correct” their behavior in a way the average person would regard as desirable.

Marita Gajan reports at The Guardian:

To varying degrees, in each of the state’s nine juvenile facilities children are placed in solitary confinement for “relatively minor offenses” such as keeping too many books, according to the report compiled by the state’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter. Other infractions triggering the “overused” practice included talking back to staff members or refusing to follow directions.

The ACLU Nebraska spokesperson said they had heard reports of children as young as 12 being put into solitary confinement, although this was not confirmed by any of the facilities themselves. […]

Isolation practices include putting a child alone in a cell for several hours or days, restricting contact with family members, limiting access to reading and writing materials and providing limited educational programming, recreation, drug treatment or mental health services, the report found.

Experts warn that extreme isolation can pose severe risks for children, including psychological, physical and developmental harm. The report cited increased suicide rates, stunted development and hampered education as by-products of juvenile solitary confinement. […]

“It was 23 hours a day alone, no TV or radio,” [Jacob Rusher, who was placed in the Douglas County youth facility three separate times as a teenager,] was quoted as saying in the report. “You were in there with one book, a blanket, a mat and a toothbrush. No art materials, no hobby items – everything was considered contraband.” […]

“If you don’t know how to deal with demons – you’re a kid, you don’t even know how to deal with normal emotions yet – then you’re sitting there by yourself, nowhere to go and every negative thing you’ve been told about yourself seems to be coming true,” he said.

Read more here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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