TESTIMONY IN SUPPORT OF HB1001
Correctional Services- Restrictive Housing – Reporting by Correctional Units and Requirements Relating to Minors
TO: Chairman Luke Clippinger, Vice Chair Vanessa Atterbeary, and members of the House Judiciary Committee
FROM: Natasha Robinson-Link on behalf of Jews United for Justice
My name is Natasha Robinson-Link. I am a resident of Baltimore City’s 45th legislative district, and I am a member of Jews United for Justice (JUFJ). JUFJ organizes more than 5,000 people in Maryland to support local social, racial, and economic justice efforts. I am testifying in support of HB1001.
In Jewish teaching, the value of Tzelem Elohim, that all people are created equal in the divine image, means that youth should be treated with dignity and respect in the criminal justice system.
As a school-based mental health clinician in a Baltimore City school, I have witnessed how social connection and relationships play a critical role in building adolescents’ self-regulation and social skills. Isolation from others, on the other hand, disrupts normal social and emotional development, and also exacerbates mental health issues.
Neuroscience has also documented that adolescents’ brains (and specifically, their prefrontal cortex – the area of the brain most responsible for executive functioning and decision-making) are not fully developed until the age of 24. Isolation from others at a critical time of neurodevelopment detrimentally impacts the ability of youth to become healthy adults. Therefore, the extreme isolation of solitary confinement will have negative emotional, social, mental health and neurodevelopmental consequences for youth, that will likely persist into adulthood.
As a Jew and as a mental health professional, I know that the use of solitary confinement for juveniles, therefore, should be limited. JUFJ urges a favorable report on HB1001.