Thousands of incarcerated teenagers across the U.S. are held in solitary confinement every day, often without being convicted of a crime. Whether they are in jails, prisons or juvenile halls, the punishment is about the same: 23 hours a day in a small cell with minimal human contact.
This week, New York state prisons became the first in the nation to ban solitary confinement as a punishment for prisoners younger than 18. But the rule does not apply to city and county jails, like New York City’s Rikers Island, which houses hundreds of minors as young as 16. Although most of them have not been convicted, they still can be punished as adults for breaking jail rules. That often means weeks or months in solitary confinement.
The Center for Investigative Reporting examines the use of solitary confinement for minors at Rikers Island. It’s part of a larger investigation – coming March 1 with the launch of “Reveal,” CIR and PRX’s public radio program – into the secretive, mostly unregulated practice of isolating young inmates.
Watch it now on PBS NewsHour.