New York governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to abolish solitary confinement for children through a Raise the Age law. Despite that, kids as young as seven can be placed into solitary confinement, since the law won’t go into effect for over a year.
To raise awareness and demand action, a group called Incarcerated Nation Corp has introduced a mobile-first campaign, Unlock Our Kids, that puts the viewer inside a solitary cell.
When anyone goes to the Unlock Our Kids mobile site, they will be transported into a 360-degree solitary confinement cell, built to accurate dimensions of a real solitary unit by the Campaign to End the New Jim Crow.
A welcome screen states that children as young as seven “must suffer up to 23 hours of solitary a day in New York State. If you had to experience just a fraction of their reality, how long would you last?”
It then pulls you into the cramped cell and asks you to hold your finger on the screen while it puts up stats about juvenile solitary incarceration. The longer you hold the screen, the more you learn. When your finger comes off, a screen pops up and tells you “you could only stand to witness solitary for (blank time)," with a plea to sign a petition to help end solitary confinement in New York with the hashtag #UnlockOurKids.
The movement currently has support from a variety of institutions, including the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for American Progress, Stop Solitary for Kids and others.
Currently over 50,000 children are held in juvenile justice facilities across the country and over 5,200 are in adult jails or prisons. This movement aims to curb those numbers as soon as possible. According to the Campaign for Youth Justice, data shows that juveniles are 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than a juvenile detention center, and 19 times more likely to kill themselves in isolation than in general population. The campaign launched July 23, National Solitary Day.
The Incarcerated Nation Corp consists of organizations and individuals who are directly impacted by incarceration and live with the consequences of mass incarceration.
“Unlock Our Kids is a campaign that was created to bring attention to the torturous conditions of kids in solitary in the US, starting with New York, Being a survivor or solitary confinement, I have seen the destructive force of isolation on an undeveloped brain. This campaign educates people to the inhumane conditions, and ultimately giving them power to demand justice for those who can’t defend themselves,” said Five Mualimm-ak, Incarcerated Nation Corp Founder.