Obama speaks on Solitary confinement

January 9, 2016


The president spoke about solitary confinement for juveniles last week. He said that he has ordered the Bureau of Prisons to change how solitary confinement is undertaken for juveniles in the federal system.

This form of punishment which is used for minor infractions is a form of torture that can cause serious damage. Solitary confinement has caused psychological damage including suicide among some.

Announcing the policy in an essay in The Washington Post, The president wrote “The United States is a nation of second chances, but the experience of solitary confinement too often undercuts that second chance. Those who do make it out often have trouble holding down jobs, reuniting with family and becoming productive members of society. Imagine having served your time and then being unable to hand change over to a customer or look your wife in the eye or hug your children.”

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The president cited the case of Mr Kalief Browder. Who was arrested when he was 16 for stealing a backpack. He was jailed in 2010 for 3 years, of which he spent 2 years in solitary confinement. When he was released, after he faced “unspeakable violence at the hands of inmates and guards” he hung himself in 2015.

Although there are many stories like Mr Browder’s, many juveniles are held in solitary confinement and restrictive housing. Some inmates are forced to live in cramped cells with no human contact for years.

Federal officials hope that this report will bring about reductions in this form of punishment.