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"Why lock somebody up while you're locked up? You're trying to kill their spirit even more," says Michael Kemp, describing his six-month stay in solitary confinement at age 17.
Solitary confinement was once a punishment reserved for the most-hardened, incorrigible criminals. Today, it is standard practice for tens of thousands of juveniles in prisons and jails across America. Far from being limited to the most violent offenders, solitary confinement is now used against perpetrators of minor crimes and children who are forced to await their trials in total isolation. Often, these stays are prolonged, lasting months or even years at a time.