The Feb. 22 editorial “Stepping away from solitary” correctly commended the efforts of Virginia state Sen. Barbara A. Favola (D-Arlington) to reform the use of solitary confinement for juveniles. However, the mental-health concerns facing our youth in juvenile detention centers are no less severe than those of adults in prison.
The United Nations classifies time spent in solitary beyond 15 days as torture — without reference to age. So reforms that propose using solitary confinement as a last resort, with the minimum amount of time necessary and only to ensure safety rather than as punishment, are not uniquely appropriate for people in juvenile detention.
As a reentry advocate and former prisoner who had been subjected to solitary confinement, I know that adults in solitary confinement are just as prone to negative mental-health impacts and that their need for direct access to staff is no less critical.
Compassion and understanding should be guiding principles in prison reform for adults, too.
Johnny Perez, New York