On Monday, President Obama announced that he plans to ban the practice of juvenile solitary confinement in federal prisons.
In an op-ed he wrote for the Washington Post titled “Why we must rethink solitary confinement,” the president explains, “The United States is a nation of second chances, but the experience of solitary confinement too often undercuts that second chance.”
Over the last few months, nearly 70,000 people have signed petitions on Change.org asking the President (and Congress) to take action on this issue.
One of the Change.org petitions on this issue was started by Fusion, which produced an investigative documentary called Prison Kids that detailed the stories of kids who grew up behind bars. Fusion found children subjected to solitary confinement experienced mental health problems, physical and mental abuse, racial inequities, and some had their lives ruined forever at an early age.
Another petition was started by Five Mualimm-ak from New York, who says he knows first hand how harmful solitary confinement can be. In his petition he writes:
While serving time in New York's prisons, I spent years in solitary confinement. Out of sight and invisible to other human beings. I started to draw portraits because in the extreme isolation, I dreamed of people, of faces.
President Obama says his actions will go beyond banning solitary confinement for juveniles and also include “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.”
These petitions are part of a growing movement of people calling for criminal justice reform on Change.org supported by Alicia Keys and #cut50. If this is an issue you support, you can follow Alicia Keys and #cut50 on Change.org.
Jon Perri is an Associate Director of Campaigns at Change.org
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