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Progress on New Bill Re: Kids in Solitary…..How School Suspensions Backfire….Despair and Hunger Strikes at Git’mo….


SB 61, a bill that defines and limits the use of solitary confinement for kids locked up in state and county juvenile facilities passed out of the Senate Public Safety Committee on Wednesday. The bill, authored by Senator Leland Yee, (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) is something that youth advocates have been pushing.

A statement from Yee’s office outlined the following points:

**Nationally, over half of the youth who committed suicide while in a correctional facility were in solitary confinement and 62 percent had a history of being placed in solitary confinement.

***Research also shows that individuals who were forced into solitary confinement had much higher rates of recidivism as well as developing psychopathologies.

**“The use of solitary confinement on a child is wrong and should be used only in the most extreme situations,” said Yee, who is a child psychologist. “The studies are clear – holding juveniles in solitary increases recidivism rates, exacerbates existing mental illness, and makes youth more likely to attempt suicide. The overuse of solitary confinement with children destroys young lives.”

“Solitary confinement is an archaic way of dealing with incarcerated children” said Yee. “Clearly, solitary confinement does not benefit society in the long run and actually makes our communities more dangerous. If we embrace scientific evidence over the status quo, we can work to rebuild broken lives and keep California safer.”

Dr. Laura Abrams of UCLA testified on behalf of SB 61, saying, “The mission of the juvenile justice system is to offer youth an opportunity for rehabilitation while also promoting public safety. The use of solitary confinement is counter to these goals. Not only does solitary confinement undermine rehabilitation efforts, but also as the potential to return a young person to society with exacerbated trauma and mental illness that can manifest in violence toward self or others.”

We’re watching this bill and are heartened by this first step toward passage!


This run-of-the-mill yet heartbreaking story of the everyday manner in which the use of a school suspension fairls to serve either the student or the safety of the school, is all too common. It is by Sally Lee writing for the Huffington Post. Here’s a representative clip:

Working in the Bronx, as she writes in the Suspensions Stories blog, E.E.M. is a history teacher who helped develop a “Moot Court” project that has become one of the seminal academic experiences of upperclassmen at her school. Student teams research real First and Fourth Amendment Supreme Court cases and then develop arguments and present in front of guest “justices.” Each year students are highly engaged in this project, and one year four of them, a crew of friends who had known each other since childhood, were working hard to prepare for their presentation. But just weeks before the case presentations, three of the young men were involved in an altercation (involving many people from multiple schools in the building) that was the result of an out-of-school turf tension related to the two sets of housing projects near the school. The three young men were given a 60-day out-of-school suspension. The effect? The students never got to stand tall and present their cases in front of peers and impressed guests. Instead, one student transferred to a school that didn’t match his needs or interests, another moved out of state, one returned to the school with little trust for faculty, and the fourth, who wasn’t involved in the fights, grew listless after the destruction of what had been a positive and supportive team for him: his friends. What could have been for these young men had the school system intervened earlier and responded differently? For E.E.M. and her colleagues, stories like these are common, and they are heartbreaking. Educators see so much promise in their students, but what is their fate when time and again they are demoralized and alienated by schools without adequate and supportive resources?


We don’t usually stray into issues that relate to national security, but for those of us concerned about humane and constitutional incarceration policies, this situation is of grave concern. The New York Times’ Charlie Savage has written a painful and shameful story about the dispair that has spread among the prisoners at Guantanamo, resulting in a mass hunger strike that is now threatening lives.

Here’s a clip from Savage’s excellent and disturbing story:

In the early afternoon quiet, guards in camouflage fatigues walked the two-tiered cellblocks of Camp Six, where the most cooperative of the 166 terrorism suspects held in the military prison here are housed. From a darkened control room, other guards watched banks of surveillance monitors showing prisoners in white clothing — pacing, sleeping or reading — in their cells.

But the relative calm on display to visiting reporters last week was deceiving. Days earlier, guards had raided Camp Six and locked down protesting prisoners who had blocked security cameras, forbidding them to congregate in a communal area. A hunger strike is now in its third month, with 93 prisoners considered to be participating — more than half the inmates and twice the number before the raid.

“They are not done yet, and they will not be done until there is more than one death,” said a Muslim adviser to the military, identified as “Zak” for security reasons, who fears there may be suicides. Only one thing, he predicted, will satisfy the detainees: if someone is allowed to leave.

The spark for the protest is disputed. Detainees, through their lawyers, say that when guards conducted a search of their cells on Feb. 6, they handled their Korans in a disrespectful way. Prison officials dispute that.

But both military officials and lawyers for the detainees agree about the underlying cause of the turmoil: a growing sense among many prisoners, some of whom have been held without trial for more than 11 years, that they will never go home.


Jail guards as inmates’ babymamas plus a thriving drug biz behind bars and more. Rochelle Ritchie of CBS reports this story (and so has nearly everyone else). Here’s a clip in case you missed the sad and jaw-dropping saga of one of Baltimore’s jail:

Twenty-five people, 13 of those female correction officers, are now behind bars facing federal charges of racketeering, money laundering and possession of drugs with the intent to distribute. Investigators say the women helped White and other gang members smuggle cell phones, marijuana, prescription pills and cigarettes into the Baltimore City Detention Center.

“It’s pretty much its own city. The guards aren’t running the jail; prisoners really run the jail,” said one former inmate.

The illegal operation isn’t surprising to former inmates.

“I was in there before. Everywhere you look, people lighting up marijuana joints, tobacco…we even get alcohol in there,” said a former inmate.

And here’s a clip from a story by Dan Rodricks for the Baltimore Sun:

I have lots of questions about the Black Guerrilla Family case, starting with this: Was the warden of the Baltimore City Detention Center asked to approve maternity leave for any of the female correctional officers allegedly impregnated by inmate Tavon “Bulldog” White?

I thought it was a pretty good question.

A taxpayer’s question.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, White got four of his jailers pregnant. (Do you think these women knew what was going on before the indictment came down? Do you think they all got along and attended Lamaze class together?)

If the indictment is correct, if female prison guards fraternized with an inmate to the point of pregnancy — a couple of them had White’s name tattooed on their bodies, the feds say — then I don’t want to hear that they asked for paid maternity leave.

Don’t tell us that.

Bad enough that White pretty much ran the jail, according to the indictment.

If his baby mamas — excuse me, his alleged baby mamas — had the chutzpah to ask for paid maternity leave, that would add insult to injury….

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