D.C. Youths Are Jailed Across the U.S., Making Family Connections Difficult
"Why are they in North Dakota?" said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who plans to push for city teens to be brought closer to home. "It's a trip to the end of the earth."
What a great day when we can have Delegate Elanore Holmes Norton as the first Senator from the new state of Washington DC? :-/
Prisoners everywhere look forward to receiving letters and visitors from home. But for more than 6,500 District inmates, these visits are few and far between, because most of them are scattered in more than 70 federal prisons across the country, wherever the Bureau of Prisons can find space.
It has been that way since 1997, when Congress transferred authority over District felons to the bureau and shut down Lorton Correctional Complex in Fairfax County, which was close to home but considered crowded and violent.
The 15 people who traveled here last weekend might never have come if it were not for the Campaign for Youth Justice, which paid $15,000 for their airfare, shuttles and hotels. The trip highlights what the group sees as the folly of sending youths with relatively short sentences far from home to places that do not understand them.
"The farther away someone is, the less likely their family will ever be able to see them and be involved in their lives," said Liz Ryan, executive director of the group, which has lobbied for 18 years to stop minors from being treated as adults in the justice system. "That family tie is something that should not be broken. We're straining it by sending juveniles 1,500 miles away. These are nameless, faceless children to decision makers in Washington."