Some Government Genius Thought This Was The Best Way To Keep Juvenile Inmates 'Safe'

If a juvenile commits a crime, he or she should have to pay a price. But solitary confinement is too steep a price for a child. I can't imagine the emotional and mental toll of being alone all the time — if you ask me, it's torture. But you don't have to ask me.

The cynical way to look at this is to write them off as criminals who deserve to "just do their time." If you're inclined to think that way, consider this: Most prisoners return to society after their sentences are complete. What will make them more likely to be good citizens: solitary confinement or rehabilitation programs?

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

Just a couple hundred years ago, in much of the United States, teaching African Americans to read and write was illegal. In the antebellum south, this was part of a strategy to maintain racist, unjust systems. There was good reason for white enslavers to see Black Americans' literacy as a threat. Inspirational abolitionist texts brought uprisings to the Caribbean, and deep biblical readings led Nat Turner to revolt in Virginia.

Slavery ended well over a century ago, so the slave codes that outlawed teaching African Americans to read should be relics of the past. However, as a woman of color and educator, I see that their spirit lives on today.

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), fewer than one in five African-American 12th graders reach reading proficiency, and Black students fared far worse than all other racial and ethnic groups that NAEP tested. The percentage of white seniors "at or above proficiency" was nearly three times that of Black seniors. Despite the immensity of African-American teens' literacy crisis and its role in their oppression as adults, we're doing little to address it.

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