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Should Young Offenders Be Put in Solitary Confinement? [AUDIO]

Several different children’s rights organizations are calling on the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission to severely restrict the use of solitary confinement.

ACLU attorney Alex Shalom in Trenton
ACLU attorney Alex Shalom in Trenton (David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ)

“There’s a growing body of social scientific literature that says that the practice of solitary confinement is extremely harmful to anyone, and it’s particularly harmful to those whose brains are still developing,” says Alex Shalom, the Policy Counsel for the ACLU of New Jersey.

He says the Juvenile Justice Commission is being asked to limit how solitary confinement is used – to only 4 to 6 hours – to allow youthful offenders to cool down.

“The JJC is empowered to do things to prevent rules violations,” he says, “but they don’t have to do things that result in massive damage to the juvenile’s brain development.”

Shalom points out kids who are held in solitary confinement can suffer from hallucinations, and feelings of paranoia and rage.

“These are exactly the sorts of emotional problems that we don’t want to instill in people who are going to be returning to our communities.”

Craig Levine, the Policy Director for the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice says solitary confinement should be used “only under appropriate circumstances, never punitively, always for short periods of time, under careful monitoring.”

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