According to an investigation conducted by Dana Liebelson, there are currently 6,000 children throughout the Land of the Free currently being held in prison facilities for adults.
In her alarming report, Liebelson outlines the details of several cases of horrific abuse of children within the US Prison System. She was even able to obtain video of a young girl being held down in what looked more like a scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie than America's rehabilitation process.
A 16-year-old by the name of Max is one of the cases Liebelson details in her report. Max is held in a maximum security adult prison in Ionia, Michigan.
During his time in prison for armed robbery, Max has been repeatedly raped by grown men he's forced to bunk with. In one instance, he was tied up and forcefully raped to the point of bleeding for days.
According to Liebelson's investigation,
Around that time, Max visited the prison health clinic; the medical report says that he had "rectal bleeding" and was "using up laundry, especially underwear.” Max said he was questioned by multiple people, some of them correctional officers. He wanted to tell them about the assault, but didn't trust them not to tell other inmates or "turn it into a joke."
Max, who is now 20, committed a crime. He took things that did not belong to him. However, he was a child; a child who was thrown into the same cage as murderers, rapists, and child molesters.
Max's story is one of the thousands of stories of children being abused and thrown into general population prisons by the state.
While some of this abuse is carried out by fellow inmates, much of it is actually "standard procedure" implemented by the prison guards themselves.
According to the report by Liebelson,
Cell extractions are supposed to be a last resort—say, when an inmate is attempting suicide. In a well-run facility, a staff member will knock on the door and attempt to reason with a prisoner who is not following orders. But Steve J. Martin, a corrections consultant, explained that with militarized teams on call, supervisors became accustomed to using them for minor matters, too. Refusal to return a food tray, for instance, is a surprisingly common reason cited by prisons. In a bad facility, "staff like to do cell extractions because it's an excuse to kick the crap out of inmates,” said Jeffrey Schwartz, a correctional consultant who has advised prisons on disciplinary policies. “There is no question that many cell extractions are unnecessary and avoidable.”
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The girl in the video below is a minor; her name is Jamie. Because her mom was addicted to crack, Jamie lived with a close family friend. In 2011, Jamie and that friend got into an argument. Police were called, and Jamie was arrested for attempting to break back into the house she lived in with a brick.
Jamie was sentenced to two concurrent six-month sentences for assault and destruction of a building. She was thrown into a prison for adults. Meanwhile, a cop of 30 years pleads guilty to raping a 5-year-old, and he's not sentenced to one day in jail.
Naturally, as a child in prison, Jamie was easily influenced by the criminal element with whom she was locked in a cage. She got in trouble a few times and for this, she was resentenced to up to five years for her original crime.
Jamie became very depressed after hearing this news. She threatened to kill herself. So, a half dozen militarized prison guards rushed Jamie's cell, dragged her out into a hallway where chemical agents were still lingering from another 'cell extraction.' The chemicals immediately hindered Jamie's breathing.
As she began coughing, officers shoved a spit guard over her face, this hindered her breathing even further.
Schwartz called the procedure used against Jamie “wrong and clearly dangerous.” “The female inmate is choking as they first put her down on the bunk, and she is also yelling for them to get off of her,” he said. “The staff should have stopped what they were doing and gotten a medical staff member to the scene immediately.”
Sadly, this did not happen. Instead, Jamie was left there, in isolation, completely restrained for 24 hours. Sure, that'll help with her depression and suicidal thoughts.
The good news is, according to Huffington Post, is that liberals, conservatives, and libertarians are all coming together to call for comprehensive criminal justice reform, and the movement's progress is impressive and hopeful.
However, kids are being mistreated and abused daily by America's prison system, so this cannot happen fast enough.
America has the largest prison population in the world. It is estimated that victimless crime constitutes 86% of the federal prison population, meaning the only reason that these individuals are incarcerated is because the state deemed their non-violent personal choices, "illegal." The majority of that 86% is for illegal drugs alone.
Most of the people who are thrown in prison are non-violent. However, when they are locked in cages with society's worst and treated like cattle in a factory farm, they come out forever changed. America is breeding a torturous and violent environment, and they have the audacity to call this the "justice system." It is high time we bring about a radical change before the entire planet is covered in for-profit prisons.
If you are looking for a place to start searching for answers to these problems, you can do so in our #solutions archives.