Like their adult counterparts, teenagers can make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes can cross the line into criminal behavior. From age-based offenses like underage drinking and curfew violations, to criminal offenses including drug charges and domestic violence, juvenile crimes are treated differently than adult crimes, often by being punished much less harshly. Nevertheless, ending up in the New Jersey juvenile justice system is still no walk in the park.
According to a recent news report, the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission, an organization created in the mid-1990s to reform the state’s juvenile justice system, is considering arguments raised by local social and religious groups concerning the treatment of youths in juvenile correction facilities. The practice that has raised specific concern among certain groups is that of solitary confinement.
The state of New Jersey currently allows the use of solitary confinement as means of punishment for up to five days in state facilities with the possibility of extending confinement for weeks. According to authorities, solitary confinement is used not only to punish individuals that break the rules at state juvenile justice facilities, but also to protect juvenile offenders from harming either themselves or others.
Despite certain arguments in support of the practice, many opponents suggest that the practice does far more harm than good, resulting in serious mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and even psychosis. While the future of the practice is unknown, rather than risking the possibility of ending up in solitary confinement, it is important that juvenile offenders discuss their case with an experienced defense attorney.
Source: NJ.com, “Editorial: N.J. must bar solitary confinement as youth punishment,” July 19, 2013