Raleigh, NC: Disability Rights NC applauds Commissioner David W. Guice’s decision to eliminate the solitary confinement of 16 and 17 year-olds in NC prisons, effective September 1, 2016.

For years, Disability Rights NC has asked the State of North Carolina to end the practice of solitary confinement because it can cause deterioration in mental health, producing paranoia, post-traumatic stress disorder, self-harm, and thoughts of suicide. The effects of solitary confinement are especially harmful to young people whose brains are still developing and to people with mental illness.

“These are young people who need help, and solitary confinement does the opposite, causing long-lasting psychological harm,” said Vicki Smith, Executive Director of Disability Rights NC. “We are pleased with the new Youthful Offender Policy and think it will lead to more successful reentries for these youth and lessen the likelihood of recidivism. This is forward progress,” Smith said.

“There is much still to be done to protect other young NC inmates and inmates with mental disabilities against the harmful effects of isolated confinement. Today, for example, 20 percent of 18-year-olds in NC prisons are in segregation as well as hundreds of adults who have mental illness. Commissioner Guice has identified solutions, but his progress will be stifled without adequate funding from the General Assembly,” said Smith.