Campaigning against solitary confinement

Jason Witmer is a filmmaker and also spent time in the prison system. He's partnering with the...
Jason Witmer is a filmmaker and also spent time in the prison system. He's partnering with the ACLU to promote a video series to help put an end to solitary confinement.(KOLNKGIN)
Published: Dec. 17, 2019 at 5:51 PM CST
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We’re still a month away from the 2020 legislative session, but already there's a bill ready for debate from last session.

It’s about solitary confinement, and it already advanced out of committee according to Senator Patty Pansing Brooks.

It would ban the practice for juveniles unless they pose a serious risk to themselves or others.

Those not in favor of solitary confinement say it's detrimental to children's mental health when serving time.

Filmmaker Jason Witmer spent many years in the prison system and about 8 years in solitary confinement.

He’s using a video series to share his story and others to end solitary confinement.

Now he's 43 years old, but as a kid Jason Witmer remembers bouncing around homes.

"As a youth I was a foster child and a gang member. I was a trouble maker, and eventually in the end it led me to incarceration for a long period of time," said Witmer.

During that incarceration he was often in solitary confinement.

"First time I went in I think it was for 30 days then the next time I was in there for a year and a half, and the longest stretch I’ve ever done is 2 years," said Witmer.

Those who aren't in favor of solitary confinement says it does more harm than good.

"Never a good thing. It’s over used it's over abused, and people never came out better,” said Witmer.

"We know there's an increase in anxiety, depression psychosis and suicidal ideations among children who have experienced this practice," Scout Richters’ ACLU Policy & Legal Counsel.

Witmer has turned his life around and now works for a nonprofit.

He’s partnering with the aclu to share “Voices of Resilience" a video series showcasing people who also have been through solitary confinement.

"When you're locked inside this white room your eyes start playing tricks on you," said Justin Gonzales.

"Bringing them out can be scary not for just them but the people around them because you don't know how mentally they developed,” said Tasha Amerson.

“We want you to see that there are people behind this. When you invest in people you get different outcomes," said Witmer.

We reached out to the Department of Corrections they say they don't use solitary confinement. We haven't heard back after asking for clarification.

According to a report from the Office Inspector General says it's considered juvenile room confinement and it does occur.

You can watch the