President Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prison | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

President Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prison

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 8:28 AM

In an op-ed in the Washington Post today, President Barack Obama outlined a series of executive actions to reform the use of solitary confinement in federal prisons, including banning the use of the practice for juvenile offenders and as a punishment for prisoners who commit "low-level infractions." In addition, the maximum amount of time that a prisoner can be held in solitary confinement for a first offense will be 60 days, down from the current maximum of 365 days. 

From the president's op-ed

The Justice Department has completed its review, and I am adopting its recommendations to reform the federal prison system. 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. These steps will affect some 10,000 federal prisoners held in solitary confinement — and hopefully serve as a model for state and local corrections systems. 

While a very small number of the thousands put into solitary confinement in federal prison are juveniles, the results of that practice can be horrific. The president cited the case of Kalief Browder, a 16-year-old from the Bronx charged with stealing a backpack. The case was eventually dismissed, but he spent three years in Rikers awaiting trial, including two years in solitary confinement. Browder later committed suicide. 

From the op-ed:

Research suggests that solitary confinement has the potential to lead to devastating, lasting psychological consequences. 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 United States is a nation of second chances, but the experience of solitary confinement too often undercuts that second chance. 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.

Obama's executive action on federal prisons is an important step, but it's important to keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of prisoners are held in state or local jails. 

I wonder whether Sen. Tom Cotton, who has been trying to demagogue this issue of late, will shout that Obama is soft on crime. 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by David Ramsey

Readers also liked…

  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Among the last words from Kenneth Williams: 'Finger Lickin' Good Fried Chicken'

    What's purported to be a final-words essay from condemned prisoner Kenneth Williams was distributed today by Deborah Robinson, a freelance journalist in Arkansas.  He reflects on his execution, his victims, reactions of inmates and big servings of fried chicken, which he says are given to all inmates on execution days.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • Another Republican miracle-working governor

    Great piece in Washington Post on the budget crisis in Louisiana. Big tax cuts and corporate welfare will do that to a state, particularly to a state whose previous governor, Republican Bobby Jindal, refused to join the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion. There's a lesson there for Arkansas.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation