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When Will New Jersey Leave the Middle Ages

Robert Stack (center), founder of Community Options.

Solitary confinement is a last resort in prisons.

Research finds that the practice increases risk for psychosis, mental illness, drug abuse, drug overdose and premature death.

So why are more than 1,000 New Jersey public school children from more than 35 districts punished with seclusion? 

Please understand, these are not children who have committed gang violence or homicide. In many cases, these are not even students who are a threat to themselves or others.

These are students with disabilities, as young as 5 years old, who are being locked into small, padded booths, or repurposed supply closets for infractions such as taking their shoes off, insisting on bringing stickers to an assembly or not wanting to put their crayons away.  

These children may be isolated for as long as the entire school day. Once inside, they can wet themselves, scratch at the wooden doors, scream, or bang their heads. New Jersey has no law against it. In fact, the law permits it, without regulation.  

This is wrong. It is unnecessary, draconian and damaging.   

Our nonprofit organization would never allow anything like this as a treatment modality. Schools should be places where children are safe. Many states ban restraint and seclusion. New Jersey should too.   

Robert Stack

Founder, President, and CEO of Community Options Inc.

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