Criminal Justice Task Force Meeting:
An Update on Youth Solitary Confinement
On Monday, March 20th at 5:15 p.m. the ACTS Criminal Justice Task Force will meet to review the status of Youth Solitary Confinement in Syracuse. At the Grace Episcopal Church on Madison Street we will discuss the next steps in dealing with this human's rights violation. Youth Solitary Confinement is one of the many injustices which contributes to Mass Criminalization, a structural issue in our society identified by our parent organization Gamiliel as the most pervasive in our Criminal Justice System.
Mass Criminalization describes the conditions that have led to the United States having the largest prison population, and the second largest rate of incarceration, in the world. Black and
Latino/as are affected most heavily by the structural systems behind Mass Criminalization, such as Youth Solitary Confinement. This is particularly impactful among youth, as approximately 70% of youth processed through the adult New York Criminal Justice System are Black or Latino/a. This is no coincidence, as the systematic Mass Criminalization in this country is racist in nature, preying on minority communities and locking them in perpetual poverty. Youth Solitary Confinement, through its contributions to Mass Criminalization, stands in the way of the ACTS overall mission to dismantle structural racism and poverty, and to create a Syracuse that is equitable, just, and compassionate.
Last year, it was discovered that 16-17-year-old youth were being detained in solitary confinement for indefinite periods of time, defined as torture under standards laid out by the United Nations. Often, weeks or months in isolated conditions led to devastating impacts on the mental, physical, social, and developmental health of these Syracuse youth. Although ACTS has achieved several important victories on this topic, there is still work to be done.
For more information on Youth Solitary Confinement:
Although not the main topic of Monday's meeting, "Raise the Age" is an issue related to Youth Solitary Confinement. ACTS has made concerted efforts with the “Raise the Age” campaign to increase the age of adult criminal responsibility in New York State. Currently, New York is one of only two states in the country to try 16 and 17-year-olds as adults. Processing youth through the adult Criminal Justice System encourages issues like Youth Solitary Confinement to occur, and generally sabotages progress toward rehabilitation for these youth.
For more information on ACTS involvement with "Raise the Age:"