Claire Banks


The “tough on crime” mentality originating in the 1980’s resulted in a crackdown of juvenile offenders for categorically non-dangerous crimes, leaving many to fend for themselves in high security prisons. An even more harrowing reality, tens of thousands of juvenile offenders in those state and federal prisons today are placed in solitary confinement for week or months on end. Extensive research indicates that solitary confinement has devastating effects on human development, mental soundness, and emotional coping – effects that, unsurprisingly, are much more devastating for juveniles than adults – signaling a desperate need for change. Looking to Germany as a model for improvement, this comment provides a comparison study of juvenile solitary confinement practices in the United States and Germany. First, my research provides an in-depth history of the origin and development of solitary confinement in the United States and Germany. Next, this comment analyzes the current status of juvenile solitary confinement legislation in the United States and Germany, highlighting important legislative efforts. Third, and most importantly, this comment provides an unapologetic account of the disturbing effects of solitary confinement on juveniles. In conclusion, this comment provides recommendations for the future and a call to action for legislative efforts to set up and protect our most vulnerable population



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