The U.S. prison system, as it is now, is not prepared for the significant number of violent crimes being committed by juveniles. A majority of prisons are not designed to adequately house this under-aged criminal population. So the question Prison Coach asks is, “How are they being protected?” And second, “In our day and time, why should this be such a serious issue in a modern “civilized society?”
Many parents of juvenile offenders are often at a total loss – often confused and bewildered as to why a nation as wealthy as the United States is unable to effectively address this issue. As Prison Consultant, Steve Oberfest states, “As Prison Consultants, we’ve advised the parents of what lies ahead as their child is jostled away to an adult prison. There is likelihood that their child will be placed in solitary confinement. That detention can be psychologically harsh if he or she enters the system while high on drugs or alcohol.”
According to Prison Consultant, Doc Fuller, “Prison Coach’s statistics for drug or alcohol abuse for clients under 18 years of age is 100%. Drugs, such as marijuana, alcohol, prescription drugs, club drugs and other substances, all play a role in vehicular homicides and other crimes committed by the youth we consult in our practice. The parents of these youth are under the assumption that they will be designated to a juvenile detention center. As prison consultants, it is our job to help them understand that their child must first pass through the county jail if they are unable to post bail.”
Another issue that arises as a result of prolonged solitary confinement is its effect on the juvenile’s mental state. Prison Consultant, Tyrone Jennings, PhD. has seen the trend of youth in county jails during the past 25 years and its effects on those placed in solitary confinement. “This was an issue during wars from the 1950’s thru 90’s, so why would it not hold true for teens who have not fully matured enough to handle day-to-day problems in an effective manner? These youth are coming to institutions high, drunk and totally perplexed at their environment.”
Both Fuller and Jennings understand that statistics do not exist for those placed in solitary confinement. They believe that 15 to 20 percent of youth are detained at least once in a single cell which is typically less than 6 X 9 feet. Such an environment can be traumatic for a young person who is not used to being confined in a solitary state for a lengthy period of time.
The Prison Coach Speaking & Consulting team hopes that the existing and increasing number of prison consultants will in the end, be a valuable resource in every aspect of the criminal justice system, and on how it treats its youth. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 100,000 juveniles have been incarcerated in adult jails and prisons. With a majority being released from jail each year, we must ask ourselves “How are we going to deal with the youth that are coming out of adult prisons with a high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?” That is if they make it out alive.