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Letters: Solitary is too cruel for kids

May 16, 2013

Re "Too young for solitary," Editorial, May 12

Your editorial had such a promising beginning. Unfortunately, rather than saying the cruel solitary confinement of juveniles should be banned, the editorial recommend that it "should at the very least be documented." Documentation cannot make an inhumane practice humane.

We know that a high percentage of juvenile offenders have psychiatric disorders. Research consistently confirms that isolation exacerbates mental health disorders. Most suicides in facilities occur during isolation.

International standards widely condemn the use of solitary confinement, especially for youths, yet the U.S. persists, knowing it causes harm and often irreversible damage. Human Rights Watch, the American Psychiatric Assn. and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all condemned the use of solitary confinement of youths. It's time to end to this form of state-sanctioned child abuse, not document it.

Marsha Levick

Philadelphia

The writer is the deputy director and chief legal counsel at the Juvenile Law Center.

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