Over 48,000 youth are confined in the USA, and the problem is much deeper than bad parenting or neglect. Our society cannot help children by imprisoning them. The problem with that approach lies in what happens when kids are placed in these prisons to begin with.
These facilities impact Black kids hardest. The Prison Policy Initiative notes that “While 14% of all youth under 18 in the U.S. are Black, 42% of boys and 35% of girls in juvenile facilities are Black.” The issues on the inside don’t help our youth, they hurt them in many ways.
Kids in prison are charged for materials like books, food, visits, and even underwear. That’s exploitation! Someone is making money off of their confinement and while some act like these facilities aren’t really prisons, they are for a variety of scary reasons.
Youth detention centers have abuse, violence, and exploitation just like prisons. They utilize tactics meant to cause mental and emotional trauma just the same. And like adults in prison, many youth locked up need the resources to better their situation, not punishment.
Youth don’t simply end up in prison because they want to be bad. Kids need support to live their best lives, but many are jailed for minor offenses and serve time instead of getting the assistance they need to grow.
This isn’t helping anyone. It’s just funneling Black kids into more problems - into a system already set up for their failure.