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Thousands of teens are being punished — by being locked in a box.

A room 10 feet by 7 feet. No human contact for months. How does this do teenagers any good?

In March 2014, Reveal, one of the websites of the Center for Investigative Reporting, did some investigating into the treatment of teenagers imprisoned on New York City's Rikers Island.

And what they found was pretty shocking: Teenagers were regularly put into solitary confinement.

"At any given time, about 100 teenagers are housed in solitary confinement at Rikers Island. ... Every day, thousands of teenagers around the U.S. are held in solitary confinement, but no one knows for sure how many. That's because the federal government does not require prisons, jails, and juvenile halls to report the number of young people they put in isolation or how long they keep them there." — Reveal

Reveal spoke with a teenager, Ismael "Izzy" Nazario, who throughout his time at Rikers Island spent a total of 300 days in solitary.


That's right, 300 days.

So teenagers — young people in their most formative years — are essentially being locked in a box.

Image by Wolfram Burner/Flickr.

A 10-by-7 room. They have no human contact. Just a toilet, a sink, and a bunk. Food comes in through a slot in the door. They might go on like this for six months.

Imagine how someone might react after days in that condition. Well, you don't have to imagine. Reports show evidence of young people pounding the walls, screaming, hallucinating, self-harming, and attempting, and committing, suicide.

Image via YouthSpeaks.

Many people were outraged by what CIR found and by Izzy's story, like Gabriel Cortez, an incredibly talented slam poet. Cortez believes that solitary confinement is a form of torture and that youth should instead be receiving the support they deserve.

Through art, writing, and good old-fashioned protest, he spoke out.

"But what room is there for growth in a cell with barely enough room to stand? What room is there for therapy and rehabilitation when trauma is promised 23 hours a day?"
— Gabriel Cortez

Check out his amazing video here. Heads up for some disturbing visuals.

The good news? As a result of the findings, Rikers Island will no longer place individuals below the age of 21 in solitary confinement.

But there's more work to be done.

Want to get other cities and states on board with protecting more young folks from this treatment?

You can. You have many options: from helping fund nonprofits like the National Juvenile Defender Center, to using ACLU's advocacy toolkits from its Stop Solitary campaign to organize in your region. You can also sign ACLU's petition to the Attorney General demanding an end to youth solitary confinement.

via Tod Perry

An artist's recreation of Jackie's napkin note.

A woman named Jackie pulled a move straight out of a romantic comedy recently, and it has the internet rallying around her potential love interest. Jackie met a guy at a bar and liked him so much that she gave him her phone number. Well, 80% of her number, that is.

The world heard about it on January 17 when Twitter user Henpecked Hal and shared a picture of the napkin with her partial phone number written on it. "My 22-year-old cousin met his dream girl at a bar and it's going pretty well,” Hal wrote in the tweet.

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Science

Sustainably good news: Recycling is getting better and this family is showing us how

What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these stories as an invitation to do better?

Via Ridwell

Ryan Metzger and son Owen

There is no shortage of dire news about the state of modern recycling. Most recently, this NPR article shared the jaw-dropping statistic that about 5% of all plastics produced get recycled, meaning the rest of it ends up in landfills. While the underlying concerns here are sound, I worry that the public narrative around recycling has gotten so pessimistic that it will make people give up on it entirely instead of seeing the opportunities to improve it. What if instead of focusing on what isn’t working, we looked at these news stories as an invitation to do better?

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Family

A letter to the woman who told me to stay in my daughter's life after seeing my skin.

'I'm not a shiny unicorn. There are plenty of black men like me who love fatherhood.'

Doyin Richards

Dad and daughters take a walk through Disneyland.

True
Fathers Everywhere

This article originally appeared on 06.15.16


To a stranger I met at a coffee shop a few years ago who introduced me to what my life as a parent would be like:

My "welcome to black fatherhood moment" happened five years ago, and I remember it like it happened yesterday.

I doubt you'll remember it, though — so let me refresh your memory.

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Indie pop band Sub-Radio created a perfect introvert parody of Whitney Houston's hit song.

There are two kinds of people in this world—those who Google "nightlife" when they're exploring travel destinations and those with no desire to venture anywhere after 10:00 p.m.

Nothing against those folks who enjoy spending after-bedtime hours in crowded nightclubs, but "nightlife" just sounds like torture to me. Even during my somewhat wild college days, whenever I'd go out dancing late at night with my friends, the little voice in my head would say, "You know you'd rather be curled up on your couch in your jammies right now." And it was right. I would have.

While some introverts may genuinely look forward to a night on the town, I'd venture to guess most of us don't. By the end of the day, our social batteries are usually pretty tapped out, so a quiet evening with a movie or a book is almost always preferable to one that involves trying to make conversation over blaring music and strobe lights.

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Pop Culture

Magician changes his act so a visually impaired man can experience it for the first time

“I really want you to experience the magic right now. So let’s try something.”

@magickevinli/TikTok

“There’s always a way to experience magic.”

Pro magician Kevin Li has dazzled audiences, celebrities and even heavy hitters in the industry like Penn and Teller with his impressive sleight of hand displays.

However, Li would tell you that one of his “most memorable” performances wasn’t for a sold out crowd, but for a single person who might normally miss out on his gifts.

A video posted to Li's TikTok shows Li offering up a magic trick to a man who is vision impaired. At first, the man politely declined, saying, “I’m blind, so the magic won’t work for me."

Without missing a beat, Li replied, “I really want you to experience the magic right now. So let’s try something.”

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Identity

Alabama community loves deaf Waffle House cook who taught his co-workers to use sign language

Manager Michael Clements has "never seen" an employee like Pookie White.

via Google

The Waffle House in Hope Hull, Alabama.

Even though companies with workplaces that make accommodations for disabled workers are happier and more profitable, there is still a huge discrepancy in workforce participation between deaf people and those who can hear. According to Deaf People and Employment in the United States, 53% of deaf people are in the workforce as compared to 75.8% of those who can hear.

One of the biggest hurdles to deaf people entering the workforce is discriminatory hiring practices, intentional or not.

“There are often layers of discriminatory hiring practices that make [workplace participation] statistics still hold true today,” the study says. “Such practices can range from the discriminatory language on the job ad itself, to the application & hiring process, and can even impact the promotion of deaf employees.”

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