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Invisible Prisoners: Why Are So Many Children, Especially Girls, Placed in Solitary Confinement?

Written by Yasmin Vafa for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post. When we hear about solitary confinement, we often imagine it as a form of extreme punishment inflicted on the most vicious and dangerous criminals in prison. The last thing you would expect is for this practice to be inflicted on children. But it is. All across this country, children are being placed in solitary for a host of different reasons ranging from ‘protection’ to the most minor misbehaviors. This practice is even more disturbing when you consider the distinct pathways of girls into the juvenile justice system. We often talk about the “school-to-prison pipeline” for boys —but for girls, it is a totally different narrative, more readily identified as the “sexual-violence-to prison pipeline.” According to the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention, approximately 600,000 girls are arrested in the U.S. annually. Most of these girls are remanded for non-violent offenses such as truancy, running away, loitering, alcohol and substance use, and violations to prior court orders for non-violent status offenses. Moreover, evidence shows that 73 percent of girls in juvenile detention have previously suffered some form of physical or sexual abuse. This abuse is often the factor that propelled the child into the juvenile justice system, as it is often the abuse that is the root cause of the girls’ running away, becoming truant, substance abuse, etc. Continue reading....