One of the readings that struck me the most was the Human Rights Watch report on Conditions of Confinement in New York’s Juvenile Prisons for Girls. I am completely blown away that this facility is legally functioning because there is so much abuse for the young girls. Basically, there are two large facilities in New York, Tyron and Lansing, and they are prisons for young girls who commit an act that would be charged as a criminal offense if it were by an adult (like stealing). The report described how at these prisons, the staff proceeds to restrain the girls, who are as young as twelve, by shoving them to the ground and pushing their faces into the floor. The workers use so much force that at times it has even broken the girls’ limbs. According to law, when dealing with children, physical force can be used only in case of emergency when a violent child needs to be controlled. However, here at the prison, the girls are being punished for merely not making their beds or not raising their hands before speaking. These girls are also sexually abused, and there have been three cases from a staff member in the past five years. The staff members take advantage of the girls and perform strip searches and visually inspect their genitals. They also make public comments about their bodies to embarass them in front of others. The girls are also suffering in their education, as there is a big lack of teachers. Each student is at a different level, but they can’t accomplish much because there are not enough teachers to split up the content and the various degrees of difficulties. The education program is also geared toward getting a GED rather than a diploma. The insufficient education makes it difficult for the girls to re-enter public schools, as they are most likely to fall behind and many don’t even bother to try at all. Another problem with these prisons is that they are in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles away from New York City. This seems like a sneaky way to keep the abuse hidden. The girls also have limited access to communication. Many times if they write grievances, they are simply ignored. What is frustrating to me about reading through all of this, is that why hasn’t the injustice been stopped? If this report has evidence that these girls are being abused, then why hasn’t the prison been shut down, or why hasn’t the staff been replaced? How can somebody who is in the position of power read this human rights report and then not do anything to fix the problem? This is just incomprehensible to me. I always though that if you wrote about a wrong and exposed it to people, then it could spark change and actually make a difference. So why are these girls being allowed to be mistreated when it is not a secret anymore?
Posted on October 6, 2008 by katie529