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The Boston Globe



Solitary confinement even more devastating for young prisoners

Adrian Walker explored the psychological damage solitary confinement can do to adults (“Questioning isolation’s price,” Metro, Jan. 16). But it is even more devastating for kids. Massachusetts automatically tries 17-year-olds as adults, no matter how minor the charges against them. They await trial and serve sentences in adult facilities, where they are routinely placed in solitary confinement. That’s 23 hours a day without human contact for a kid who is likely already terrified.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry opposes holding minors in solitary confinement. The risks of depression, anxiety, and psychosis facing anyone in isolation are more severe for adolescents, and they dramatically increase their risk of suicide. In 1990, the United Nations General Assembly called for an end to solitary confinement of juveniles, a practice the UN included on a list of “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.”

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