Commentary

04.05.14

Ohio’s children are being tortured. A look at the extreme isolation of mentally-ill kids.

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Ohio is failing its children. From shackling of non-violent juveniles, to secluding school children with disabilities, to isolating children with mental illnesses, the rights and health of children are being ignored.

Children held in solitary confinement suffer extreme harm.  It leads to developmental delays and increases in mental illness.  Ohio has locked up juveniles in isolation repeatedly, causing children to physically harm themselves, experience psychological damage, and even attempt suicide.

When will this torture stop?  Children who are locked up don’t deserve such cruel and unusual punishment. The State of Ohio has forgotten that children don’t lose their constitutional rights when taken into custody. 

Below is an excerpt from a Mother Jones article published on 4/3/2014:

Parents can’t keep children alone in their rooms for 1,964 hours. But Ohio allegedly does.

An Ohio juvenile correctional facility placed a child, who was on suicide watch and psychiatric medication, in solitary confinement for 1,964 hours between April and September of last year, according to the Department of Justice.

And his experience isn’t unique: Four juvenile correctional facilities in Ohio imposed almost 60,000 hours of solitary confinement on 229 boys with mental-health needs in the second half of 2013.

These details, and other harrowing accounts, are included in a March 12 lawsuit filed by the [ ] Justice Department against the state of Ohio, Republican Gov. John Kasich, and others, on the basis that the state’s excessive use of solitary confinement among children with mental-health issues is unconstitutional.

[T]he seclusion of children is a practice that largely still occurs in the dark. “No one knows exactly what is happening to children behind bars, and no [one] is accountable,” says Amy Fettig, senior staff counsel for the ACLU’s National Prison Project (NPP). “If this harms adults so terribly, what does it do to kids who are still growing and developing?”

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