On any given night in America, more than 5,000 children are held in adult jails and prisons. Youth offenders held in adult prisons receive the lowest rate of supportive and therapeutic services in the criminal justice system despite the fact that as many as 70 percent of them have a diagnosable mental health disorder.
Health and criminal justice research irrefutably demonstrates that youth housed in adult jails are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than youth housed in juvenile detention facilities. They are also extremely vulnerable to being sexually and physically assaulted, or placed in isolation often as a misguided attempt to protect them from the adult inmate population.
I co-authored an Op-Ed for Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. about this issue. Click HERE to read it.