Cosponsor the Protecting Youth from Solitary Confinement Act (H.R. 1926)
Last year, thanks to intense pressure from advocates all around the country, President Obama banned the use of solitary confinement for children in federal prisons. Please join me in cosponsoring the Protecting Youth from Solitary Confinement Act again this Congress to make this policy permanent.
Every year, thousands of our youth are sent to prison where they are at risk of being subjected to solitary confinement. Solitary confinement entails the physical and social isolation of a human being for 22 to 24 hours a day, sometimes for an indefinite period of time. The pain and suffering that a person experiences as a result of this extreme form of imprisonment can be serious enough to violate the standards of international and U.S. Constitutional law. Children are particularly vulnerable to the potential harms caused by solitary confinement because they are developmentally at such a formative stage in their lives.
For example, because youth comparatively lack the psychological resources that help adults cope with isolation, youth are likely to experience the psychological harms associated with solitary confinement to a greater degree than adults. Too often, the mental health of youth subjected to solitary confinement deteriorates to the point of self-harm or suicide. The restrictive and stressful conditions of solitary confinement can also affect the physical well-being of youth in the form of stunted growth, hair or weight loss, or the temporary loss of menstruation. Further, the lack of contact with visitors or educational materials for youth in solitary confinement can stunt the social and educational development of our youth.
For all of these reasons, I ask you to join me in sponsoring legislation that will abolish the use of solitary confinement as a punitive measure for youth, and require the federal government to report relevant data on a yearly basis.