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In Support of Banning Solitary Confinement for Children

June 1, 2016

The Viatorian Community urges Illinois legislators to follow a lead set by New York City officials and most recently those in Los Angeles County, that prohibits the use of solitary confinement for children.

Currently, a modest bill is before Illinois legislators that begins to restrict the use of solitary confinement for incarcerated youth.

More than one dozen states have banned the practice entirely, in recent years.

Bernardine Dohrn, Clinical Associate Professor of Law and immediate past director and founder of the Children and Family Justice Center, wrote about the consequences of solitary confinement on children, in a blog posted in May.

She points to studies that confirm that being isolated in a small cell can have particularly negative effects on the developing brains of adolescents, and may even increase a relapse into criminal behavior.

Dohrn quotes the United Nation’s special rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Mendez, who described solitary confinement for children, as “torture, and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.”

In this report, Mr. Mendez refers to torture and children deprived of their liberty and recommends in absolute terms:  “to prohibit solitary confinement of any duration and for any purpose.”

Dohrn’s full blog posting appears on the website of Portside, whose mission is to “provide varied material of interest to people on the left that will help them to interpret the world, and to change it.”