Letters to the Editor

Adam Sotak: Stop solitary confinement for kids

Regarding the May 26 news article “North Carolina prisons moving away from solitary confinement”: The N.C. Department of Public Safety should be applauded for its effort to phase out the inhumane practice of solitary confinement in state adult correctional facilities and for working with other state leaders and departments to help seek solutions to our state’s mental health crisis.

Another unfortunate aspect of the solitary confinement issue is that since North Carolina automatically prosecutes 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, some children in both county jails and at Foothills Correctional Center in Morganton are subjected to this cruel and counterproductive practice, also sometimes for months at a time.

In fact, we are one of only a handful of states where 16-year-olds are held in solitary confinement for extended periods of time. This should stop immediately.

Rightfully, solitary confinement has already been banned in the North Carolina juvenile justice system, and earlier in 2016 the U.S. Department of Justice, under the direction of President Obama, ended solitary confinement for juveniles in adult federal prisons. It’s past time for North Carolina to follow suit.

Adam Sotak

Public engagement director, NC Child