The Native American prisoner’s rights and advocacy organization, HUY based in Seattle, WA, is calling on the King County Council to end the use of solitary confinement in youth detention centers.
In a letter sent to the council and the County Executive Dow Constantine it states that the practice has “devastating impacts” on vulnerable populations.
“Native American youth are 30 percent more likely than Caucasian youth to be referred to juvenile court than have charges dropped, which results in their early entry into the system— perhaps without return. In our experience, local Native youth are infrequently offered opportunities for diversion.
Solitary confinement can have a devastating impact on an already vulnerable population, like our local Native youth. Studies have shown that solitary confinement exacerbates existing mental illnesses in those who are confined, leading to depression, alienation, withdrawal and the potential for violent behavior. These byproducts will only serve to ensure that our youth return to the corrections system time and time again.”
King County Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski has introduced legislation that would ban solitary confinement for minors in detention. The proposal would also “require the County to provide incarcerated youth with adequate educational resources, and calls for the use of detention practices suited for youth and their brain development, regardless of the location where the young person is detained.”
Read Huy’s full letter here