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In Pennsylvania, although adulthood begins at age 18, teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 on felony counts can face judicial charges as if they were adults. Photo: Archive.
In Pennsylvania, although adulthood begins at age 18, teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 on felony counts can face judicial charges as if they were adults. Photo: Archive.

Under the magnifying glass: solitary confinement of young people in Philadelphia prisons

A group of councilors want to discuss treatment received by young people under 18 in prisons in the city.

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Knowing the fate of a teenager in a penitentiary for adults is distressing in most cases. In Philadelphia, many face very difficult situations of confinement while awaiting trial.

That is why a group of councilors wants to put the issue on the table to look for alternatives on the way the judicial and penitentiary systems are treating minors who face judicial charges as if they were adults.

According to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, several teenagers have been subjected to so-called "punitive segregation" in city jails, a sort of punishment consisting of complete isolation of the inmate for even a full month. This measure has been applied in cases where young inmates have been involved in fights or whose interaction with other inmates has become violent, according to Blanche Carney, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Prisons, during a hearing on the budget of the city held last Tuesday,

What is worrying is that confinement often results in deepening the vulnerability of juvenile offender. Sadly some have ended up taking their own lives in their cells.

According to a draft resolution quoted by the Inquirer, Councilmembers Kenyatta Johnson, Helen Gym and Curtis Jones plan to begin a series of discussions within the Council with the goal of ending this practice and to look for alternatives that really reorient the road of young people arriving to the cells.

The proposal foresees that, instead of being held in solitary confinement in adult prisons, young people awaiting trial will be held in juvenile detention centers.

 
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