NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - There’s a bill that’s making its way through the state legislature that would restrict solitary confinement for juveniles in detention in Tennessee.
The bill is for juveniles, created by juveniles, and has already passed in the state Senate unanimously.
“Solitary confinement has long-term negative effects on developing brains,” said Darby Kolwyck, who helped create the bill.
Kolwyck and Isabella Ryan first had the thought in 2015.
At the time, they were in high school participating in the YMCA’s Youth in Government program.
“It was really intimidating. I just cold emailed Senator (Jeff) Yarbro. I had no idea if he was even going to respond,” said Ryan.
He did, in a big way.
Yarbro is sponsoring the bill that would restrict the solitary confinement of kids in all of the juvenile detention centers across the state.
“People when they see injustices or problems in the community, they should do whatever they can to solve them,” said Yarbro.
Yarbro said those people are often younger than you might expect.
“I am constantly amazed in this job, how often good ideas will come to us from young people who put this on the radar for the General Assembly before the investigative reports and lawsuits and other things that happen,” said Yarbro.
Kolwyck and Ryan have a message they want to share with everyone.
“Listen to young people and young people’s voices,” said Kolwyck.
“Reach out to your public officials because they are happy to engage with you, and if you stick with it, your issue may become law too,” said Ryan.
Yarbro said there is also a lesson to be learned here about patience and persistence.
Ryan and Kolwyck first pitched the bill in 2016. So, if and when it passes, it will have taken more than four years.