Ohio to "Dramatically Reduce" Solitary Confinement for Young Inmates


Ohio has taken a major step in curbing the use of solitary confinement for a group of people who don't need to be there: juveniles.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Ohio's Department of Youth Services has reached a settlement with the federal government to "dramatically reduce, and eventually eliminate" the use of isolation for young inmates. The settlement stems from a 2007 Justice Department investigation that found Ohio's youth prisons frequently use long-term solitary confinement, especially for prisoners with mental illness.

Over the last fifteen years, states have come under increasing pressure to restrict or abolish the practice of what is euphemistically called 'disciplinary seclusion.' The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, recent pressure from Attorney General Eric Holder, devastating reports from the American Civil Liberties Union, and a congressional hearing called by senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) have brought much-needed attention to an issue that remains behind prison walls, obscured from public view.

Ohio joins seven other states – Maine, Connecticut, West Virginia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Alaska – restricting the use of solitary confinement for inmates under the age of 18.

As this 2013 ReasonTV investigation shows, tens of thousands of juveniles end up in solitary confinement every year, not as punishment, but "for their own protection." A practice that was once reserved for the most violent inmates has become a routine approach to inmate security in correctional facilities that house juveniles together with adults.

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  1. When the revolution comes and I get stuffed in a prison for counterrevolutionaries, I wouldn’t mind being given my own cell, so long as they provide me with books. And toilet paper, so I can write my prison memoir and smuggle it out.

    1. The only books they will provide you with are written by Thomas Friedman.

      1. As long as Friedman isn’t my cellmate, explaining how he never intended his support of Chinese-style authoritarianism could lead to *this.*

        1. “Last weeks events in the shower were eventful, but we may not know for months, or even years what they mean. What’s important, however, is that we focus on whether or not the inmates are using the canteen. There is no doubt that the lower bunk is flat.

          As I rode from the inprocessing facility, my bus driver pointed out how this place was a microcosm of the intractable problem in Ireland. In the exercise yard there were apologists and refuseniks trying to come to terms with the Chestnut Revolution in a surprisingly open fashion. This tells me two things, there will be napkins at meals. Second, my water heater is set too high.

          I know this, despite all the talk of those in Washington, the average Iowa farmer is still raising catfish. If they continue on, this will be a better world. We can all hope so.”

          1. That’s Pulitzer material right there.

      2. Cruel and unusual punishment.

        But Taranto nailed TF yesterday (near the bottom of the link).

        “The cows are milking themselves” is the best metaphor we’ve heard for how a Thomas Friedman column gets produced.

  2. Pass the roll of TP thru the slot to the rest of the Reason commentariat, which are also in for being enemies of the regime, and it would be just like the web comments, but with fewer bugs.

    I could enjoy a few years in solitary, now and again, but for a 14-18 year old, not quite the same.

    1. …”but for a 14-18 year old, not quite the same.”

      I’m with you guys re the quiet and the books, but I’m not convinced of this.
      Solitary can be a harsh punishment for some, but some (maybe a different ‘some’) should not be allowed in the general prison population, since they are psychopaths and are a constant physical danger to others.
      And some of those people are quite young.

    2. I was 15 when I did 9 months in “juvie” in Ohio.

      I spent three months of that in “solitary”- 15 minutes to shower in the morning, 5 minute toilet breaks at shift changes, and nothing but a bible to read.

      I even spent 3 days straight-jacketed to my bed because I had the audacity to do push-ups.

      But, they never did get the apology they wanted for not respecting their authoritah.

  3. Um…

    Doesn’t solitary mean you’re NOT getting fucked in the ass?

    I’ll take solitary for 1000 Alex.

    1. That’s kind of what I thought.

      Of course, there’s the problem that a complete lack of human contact, even contact with rapists and robbers, can lead to madness. But maybe that gap can be filled by conversing with the guards. Or with the spiders in the cell.

    2. Not fucked in the ass by fellow prisoners but fucked in the ass by prison guards.

    3. It’s the ass fuckers lobbying to get the young meat back into population.

  4. And on this fine Memorial Day, to all of you heroic individuals who served your country honorably, may I offer you this wish:

    Don’t you wish the goddam draft had been outlawed before those assholes took two years of your life to go shoot at people who weren’t threatening you one bit?

    1. My dad had 18 months taken out of his life courtesy of the peacetime draft, which he spent at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico making certain that the Ernst Stavro Blofelds of the world wouldn’t get a hold of the missiles. He was sent to NM because he told the Army doctors he had a ragweed allergy. He promptly found out he was allergic to tumbleweed, too.

      I told this story a couple of Veterans’ Days ago on another board where the military bootlicking is substantial, and boy did they get pissed.

  5. Don’t you wish the goddam draft had been outlawed before those assholes took two years of your life to go shoot at people who weren’t threatening you one bit?

    “No Viet Congs ever called me a nigger.”

  6. It’s hard to imagine what life was like for a teenage boy in the 60’s with the hard fact of the Vietnam war staring you in the face. The draft was like a black hole that you had to navigate your life around. If you could get into college or some other deferment then you could avoid it but most of us were looking a the very real possibility of wading through rice patties in the near future.

    I joined the Air Force to dodge the draft and managed to spend my term on the other side of the globe from those rice patties.

    … Hobbit

    1. My first father-in-law did three tours. He said on his second deployment, as he and the others were boarding the plane one of the guys ahead of him dropped his shit on the ground and got out of line. He refused to go at the last possible moment. I asked him what happened to the guy. He said the guy went to prison, as if not going to Vietnam was a mistake.

      We had the conversation in the early 90’s. I asked him where the guy probably was now. He agreed the guy was out of prison by then, and I added that he probably got married and had kids. I asked him where the rest of the guys were who did get on the plane.

      1. Probably alive with more kids than a coward.

  7. Many patients in mental hospitals keep small radios with ear buds going all the time. They do it to help drown out the voices they hear.

    Most people I know keep a radio or tv on all, and I mean ALL the fucking time. When I ask them about it many have told me that silence drives them nuts, that they begin having racing thoughts and anxiety, confirming my suspicion that they are doing it for similar reasons as the mental patients.

    I can imagine that for the majority of young people solitary confinement is pure hell and in no time at all they would go howl-at-the-moon crazy.

    Give me silence, or as I like to refer to it, peace and quiet. It allows me to focus and think. I am in control of my thoughts and I can focus them where I like as long as I am not distracted by a shitbox constantly screaming idiocy and demanding my attention. I almost never turn on the damn tv.

    I am with y’all. Give me solitary.

    1. I like music in the background, but I don’t like the TV on unless I’m actually watching it.

      Complete silence would probably make me crazier than usual.

  8. “When a boy turns 13, seal him in a barrel and feed him through a knot hole. When he turns 16, plug up the hole.” –Mark Twain

    1. Heinlein added a part about locking daughters in the wood shed until 18, also. In retrospect, perhaps not a bad idea.

      … Hobbit

  9. Elsewhere in Ohio:


  10. And eventually eliminate? Eventually?

    If you’ve had the scales removed from your eyes and finally seen the light, why the heck would you ever go with “eventually”?

    Here’s an idea…. how about “immediately” instead?

  11. I don’t know where to go on this. 13-18 yr olds who get sent to adult “pound-you-in-the-ass” type prison have typically been found guilty of some heinous shit.

    Placing them in solitary compounds the punishment level. But leaving that young boy in the clutches of general adult ass-pounding population is extreme punishment as well.

    I believe some prisons have forms of protective custody for these types of cases, but that adds to the expense of housing these prisoners.

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