Society as a whole would be outraged when they viewed the picture of this little elephant being held in this small confined space. Every activist organization would rise up to free him...no matter what the cause, purpose or circumstance.
Yet when a child, a woman, a mentally ill person, or a man is held in a confined space like this one for
days....months...years.....without human contact....no fresh air....no sunshine....we somehow think it justified.
Most nations do not agree with us. Not even China.
This week the U. N. Intergovernmental Expert Group Meeting is happening in Buenos Aires to revise the Standard Minimum Rules For The Treatment Of Prisoners. The United States still defends the prolonged use of solitary confinement. Here is a quote from the ACLU and a link to the article. (emphasis mine)
"Unfortunately, the U.S. continues to defend the use of long-term solitary confinement. Several governments and NGOs endorsed a 15- or 30-day limit on solitary confinement, as well as an absolute ban on solitary for vulnerable groups like juveniles, pregnant women, and persons with mental illness. The U.S. delegation rejected all of these proposals. To be fair, the U.S. was not the only government resisting meaningful restrictions on solitary confinement, and the U.S. proposal did contain some positive elements, such as a provision that visiting shall not be restricted for prisoners in solitary absent security justifications. But it’s notable that the Chinese government endorsed without hesitation a 15-day limit to the use of solitary confinement." US at UN Prisoners Rights Meeting
SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IS TORTURE and juveniles charged as adults are almost without exception held in solitary confinement in this nation while they await trial. Once sentenced, juveniles are subjected to more solitary confinement in adult prisons for their own protection. Is this how we treat our children?
I have posted articles concerning specific juvenile offenders so that you, the reader may come to know the person behind the crime. This was done with the intention of helping the public to see that these are people, human beings, who made really bad decisions. Thanks to restorative justice practices and victims who have determined to complete their healing process, victims and perpetrators are coming together and finding the way to mend the broken lives left by criminal acts. The article and endorsement below is powerful. This was a very brave woman who chose to confront the issues head on and it changed everything for her and for the person who committed the crime. I have posted an excerpt here and encourage you to follow the link to view the entire letter from Linda White.
"Eleven years ago, I asked to meet with one of the youth, Gary Brown, in a mediated dialogue. When I met him, I discovered a young man whose life had been one of abuse and neglect, a world apart from that of my childhood and that of my children. Though he offered no excuses for his actions, what he told me helped me to understand how he could have done such a tragic deed. His total remorse was an incredibly healing encounter for me."
View the entire e-mail - Click here
On December 12, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Senate's Assistant Majority Leader and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, will chair a hearing on the school-to-prison pipeline.
Advocates across the country will be taking advantage of this opportunity to present case history concerning the impact of zero tolerance policies on kids, the current juvenile justice and reform practices and failures and many other topics.
In this country we set the rules in place and then let the authorities figure out what to do with the kids. We have few guidelines concerning conditions of confinement, rehabilitation practices or reform practices. We are way behind the rest of the world.
Take a look at this case that was presented on behalf of 7 young men in Bristol. Not only are there attorney's ready to step in on their behalf but judges are concerned over the practices that may be harmful to youth held in confinement. Amazing! Here is a teaser from the article. Follow the link for the rest.
"Lawyers from the Howard League for Penal Reform said it was unlawful for the teenagers to be punished "by awarding them additional days; subjecting them to an informal version of segregation without any safeguards; and removing privileges and rights such as restriction to education and the gym".
Ashfield teenage prisoners begin legal battle
While the thought of sending a kid to prison for the remainder of his natural life is appalling, there are cases that really raise the eye brows. In my last post I spoke of Jeff Johnson and his case, the fact that he declares he was not the killer, and yet he received life without parole and a sentence longer than his elder co-defendant.
Erik Jensen's (left) is equally compelling. He was a kid who found himself in a bizarre situation that none of us can ever imagine. His friend, Nathan Yabanez, got into an argument with his abusive mother and when Erik entered the room she was dead. He went on to try and help his friend save himself. Not the right thing to do but who would be thinking clearly at this point?
Again Alan Prendergast writes an exceptional article concerning this young lifer. Even more poignant is the letter that Erik Jensen wrote himself. Read on:
Erik Jensen, juvenile lifer, hangs onto hope "now more than ever"
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