By JORDAN WILIAMS
On January 3rd, The Justice Department submitted a statement of interest in support of a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union and Legal Services of Central New York to stop the Justice Center jail in Syracuse from subjecting 16- and 17-year-old children to solitary confinement. The department has expressed its concerns to the Obama Administration, which last year discontinued the use of the practice for juveniles in federal prisons.
“The Department of Justice’s involvement shows that what is happening to children at the Justice Center is not simply a tragedy for Syracuse, but it is a national disgrace,” said NYCLU Executive Director, Donna Lieberman. “Children must be protected from the tortures of solitary confinement.”
Children are routinely sent to solitary for “offenses” such as speaking loudly, wearing the wrong shoes or uniforms or for other typical teenage behavior. These children who are locked up in solitary are sexually harassed by adults, held in disgusting conditions, denied education and even pushed to contemplating suicide.
“The Justice Department, by filing a statement of interest today, weighed in with an unambiguous call to end the solitary confinement of children in this country,” said Josh Cotter, co-lead counsel on the case and staff attorney at LSCNY. “The Justice Department speaks with the voice of authority on this issue, as the federal government has already ended solitary confinement of juveniles in the federal prison system. Syracuse is one of the last places in the country where this inhumane practice continues, and for the good of our community’s children, it must end here too.”
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