It’s Time to Rethink Juvenile Justice in America
For years, the United States suffered under the weight of failed “tough-on-crime” policies, finally admitting defeat over the last decade to more policies that are smart on crime and soft on taxpayers. We have learned that rehabilitation and redemption can enhance public safety, while simultaneously reducing crime rates and incarceration rates. The data shows that communities are stronger when we give people second chances. Shockingly, these insights and reforms have not always translated to the youngest among us.
More than 48,000 children are incarcerated across the United States – with more than one in 10 held in a facility for adult offenders. Imagine being a child imprisoned with adults — how terrifying it must be separated from your family and placed with strangers and know that every day you will be preyed on because you are smaller and younger and alone. The United States is also the only country that sentences children to life without parole — which means we sentence children to die in prison. And, on any given day, in either a juvenile or adult facility, children are placed in solitary confinement, isolated for up to 22 hours without any form of human contact, for a day, a month, or years.