Blog of Rights

No Mother Should Share My Anguish: Join Me in Asking for a Ban on Youth Solitary for Those in Federal Care

By Vicky Gunderson, Activist at 1:47pm

As a mother, not being able to hug and comfort my son when he was alone in a concrete box is like the worst form of hell.

Knowing our son Kirk ended his own life while being held in solitary confinement, after he requested to not be left alone… I cannot describe that to you.

Kirk was only 17. It was two days after Christmas.

My son Kirk isn't an anomaly. Solitary confinement is a major factor in prison suicide. Since Kirk's death I've learned that kids as young as 13 are locked up in cells away from human contact for days or months at a time all across the country. It has a devastating impact on their development, especially for those with mental health problems.

Not only is solitary confinement cruel and deadly, it's ineffective. There are safer and more cost effective ways of managing troubled youth.

The federal Bureau of Prisons has announced a review of its use of solitary confinement. As part of that process, Attorney General Holder can ban the solitary confinement of young people in the care of the federal government. That would help set a standard for all facilities across the country, like the jail where Kirk died.

I've been speaking out about my son's death since 2006 to make sure people around the country and decision-makers in Washington hear his story. And with this official review, and the Brian Williams story airing last night, there's never been a better opportunity to change things.

You can help me to end the barbaric practice of solitary confinement of young people by signing a petition to Attorney General Eric Holder, so no mother or father, and no child, has to endure this again.

Get Involved

A Mother's Plea: Stop Solitary Confinement of Children
Please help me prevent other mothers and fathers from ever having to share my anguish by signing this petition to help ensure that kids can never be locked in solitary when they are federal custody.

Watch the Rock Center with Brian Williams segment on the solitary confinement of kids in adult prisons and jails, featuring the ACLU's Ian Kysel, here.

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