Youth in Solitary Confinement Reduction Act
Youths don't belong in solitary
Florida leads the nation in locking up youths under 18 in adult state prisons, often putting them in solitary confinement. Exactly how many the state won't say, thus hiding the shame.
Solitary confinement impairs social development. Social and sensory deprivation eats away at one's sense of healthy relationships. It triggers hallucinations, not insight into behavior. In forced isolation, personality and judgment decline. Solitary confinement is torture because it diminishes the sense of being human.
Brain research shows that emotional intelligence and decisionmaking matures around the age of 25. Our treatment of youth in detention can determine the rest of their lives. A youthful nonviolent offense should not become a life sentence of impairment. And yet, Florida has no law, policy or regulation that prevents holding young people in solitary confinement. On the other hand, if a parent locks a child in a closet, it's criminal abuse.
State Sen. Audrey Gibson filed the Youth in Solitary Confinement Reduction Act (SB 812) in February to stop the harmful practice. The bill would strictly control its use on both children and "youthful offenders" (youth between the ages of 18-24). It limits emergency confinement to 24 hours and disciplinary confinement to 72 hours. It requires mental health assessments and out-of-cell time to lessen the psychologically damaging effects of solitary confinement.
The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, following a path of inaction, delayed consideration of SB 812.
I join the National Religious Campaign Against Torture in calling on Florida legislators to pass legislation to halt the use of solitary confinement of Florida's youth.
The Rev. Russell L. Meyer, executive director, Florida Council of Churches, Tampa
Diagnosis: human | April 7
Drug use out of control
As a working pharmacist for 35 years, I am amazed by the insights of the writer into why drug use is so commonplace. I think it is tragic that 11 percent of school-age children are diagnosed with ADHD. Knowing my childhood ways, I feel if I were an 8- or 9-year-old today I would have the same label.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the benchmark to diagnose and treat mental conditions. What is not known to many is that this manual is composed by psychiatry leaders in their field who have ties to Big Pharma. It is nothing more than a conflict of interest to create conditions for drugs created; sometimes it can be the other way around.
The author's report of a psychiatrist requiring his son to be medicated before he would see him astounds me. How could this psychiatrist know what the child was like before the drugging?
These drugs affect neurotransmitters in the brain, which cause a change in one's personality. But we know very little about the brain, and that is why the National Institutes of Health has started a program to map its neural pathways.
How can our society allow this type of activity to continue? Thirty years or more of trying to fight illicit drug use in America — and we allow this activity to breed even more, with Big Pharma propagating drug use as a way of living.
Jim Demmy, Kenneth City
We are doomed | April 7
Don't do something rash
It is hard to tell whether David Stockman's article predicting financial collapse is a genuine warning or a camouflaged scare tactic intended to complete the "starve the beast" program he started in the 1980s for shrinking government. Regardless, the advice he gives at the end of the article to exit the markets and turn all assets to cash may be disastrous for those who heed it.
While there may be a financial collapse, it is much more likely there will be moderate inflation, enabling our government to pay its debts and entitlements with depreciated dollars while collecting inflated volumes of tax revenues. If this happens, our indebtedness problem will diminish and the economy will do well for those working and investing. For those who turn all their investments into cash, it will be a disaster.
Given this uncertainty, readers will be wise to maintain financial diversification and do nothing rash.
Robert Silverman, Wimauma
Why I study duck genitalia | April 7
Wetlands would be better
I read with interest Patricia Brennan's defense of the $380,000 grant for her study. Nowhere in the article did she give a valid reason for the study other than a vague reference to the link between basic research and applied research. Nowhere is there a good reason to spend taxpayer dollars when times are tough. The money might have been better spent buying wetlands to improve duck habitat in a time when developers are trying to pave over every piece of vacant land. At least that would be ongoing and not gone by July.
Richard Hambley, Largo
Senator doing his duty
On April 9 two letters were printed criticizing Sen. Bill Nelson for changing his stance on gay marriage. It is my understanding that our elected representatives are to represent the majority of their constituents. If Nelson has learned that his constituents' majority opinion is for a particular issue (any issue, not just this one), then he is mandated to vote for the issue rather than against it.
He is not a "flip-flopper;" he is an elected official doing his duty.
Diane Martis, Sun City Center
Scott signs Net cafes ban | April 11
Special interests win
Once again the special interest gambling lobby and politicians who appear to have monetary interests have flexed their political muscle. Even over the protests of the thousands who frequent these places daily to kill a little time and socialize with others their own age, they have banned Internet cafes.
Do these people in Tallahassee think that people come to Florida for the wonderful jobs market? No. A large portion of us come here to live out our days enjoying ourselves after a life of working. People gamble in the United States and that's a fact. Gambling could be a source of income for Florida to help offset budget deficits.
Walter Brown, Spring Hill