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The Truth About Teenagers in Adult Prisons

Teens in adult prisons are more likely to suffer physical abuse, sexual assault, and suicidal tendencies than adults, but lawmakers in North Carolina are seeking new legislature that could increase the number of young people in adult prisons.

According to North Carolina law, judges have the power to try 13-, 14-, and 15-year-olds as adults for some felony crimes. Now, lawmakers are seeking to transfer this power into the hands of prosecutors.

Not only does this threaten teenagers' safety (some adult prisons keep child convicts in solitary confinement for this reason), but it increases the child's risk of committing a violent crime later in life, studies show.

Current Practice Leads to Mental Illness and Violence

Under normal circumstances, prisons implement solitary confinement for the following reasons:

  • To punish inmates for bad behavior
  • To protect other inmates from dangerous convicts
  • To monitor inmates who attempted suicide

Since children are targeted for abuse in adult prisons, many states attempt to protect them through solitary confinement. According to studies, this treatment is even more devastating to teenagers than it is to adults, and can lead to mental illness and further violence.

While solitary confinement may offer protection from abuse and physical harm, it causes a different kind of damage to teenagers in the adult prison system.

This sense of isolation, depression, and often despair is increased by the stiff rules that accompany solitary confinement, such as:

  • No access to books
  • No visitors, including family
  • No written communication with family

In extreme cases, these teenagers suffer from acute anxiety, hallucinations, and other mental complications.

Facilitating Healing and Rehabilitation, Not Permanent Scarring

The U.S. criminal justice system is in place to protect the general public from crime, but this doesn't mean that young inmates should suffer unnecessary punishment in adult prisons.

Ideally, children in the juvenile justice system should have the chance to rehabilitate and re-enter society through mental health services and counseling, instead of solitary confinement.

What To Do If Your Child is Arrested

At The Hammer Law Firm, LLC, we are passionate about helping young people who are facing criminal accusations. If your child was charged with a crime, it is critical to immediately speak with an attorney. A child can easily get lost in the criminal justice system and suffer life-long consequences after a conviction. When you work with us, we take your juvenile case to heart and tirelessly pursue the favorable case outcome that your child needs.


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