Kraner, Natalie J., Naomi D. Barrowclough, Catherine Weiss, and Jacob Fisch. “51-Jurisdiction Survey of Juvenile Solitary Confinement Rules in Juvenile Justice Systems.” New York: Lowenstein Sandler LLP and Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest, October 2015.
This report by the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest and Lowenstein Sandler presents the results of “the only nationwide survey known to us on the laws and policies governing the use of solitary confinement in juvenile detention facilities. In addition to canvassing every state’s governing rules, the authors interviewed a number of practitioners and the administrators of juvenile facilities about the actual use of solitary confinement in their home jurisdictions in an effort to identify how the states’ practices deviate (if at all) from their written rules and policies.”
“The updated survey allows the reader to understand each state’s approach to imposing solitary confinement, with a particular focus on the purposes of confinement (punitive or other purposes, such as safety concerns), the length and conditions of such confinement, and the due process protections in place (if any) for a juvenile entering or leaving solitary confinement.”
Key Findings on the Use of Punitive Solitary Confinement
- 21 jurisdictions prohibit the use of punitive solitary confinement in juvenile facilities by law or practice. Some states allow confinement for only a few hours a day; those states that allow it for a maximum of 4 hours per day are counted among the states that have banned punitive solitary confinement.
- 20 more states impose time-limits on the use of punitive solitary confinement, ranging from 6 hours to 90 days. Among states that allow punitive confinement, the most common limits on the amount of time that juveniles may spend in isolation are 3 to 5 days.
- 10 states either place no limit on the amount of time a juvenile may spend in punitive solitary confinement or allow indefinite extensions of their time limits through administrative approval.
Key Findings on the Use of Non-Punitive Solitary Confinement
- Of the 21 states that ban punitive solitary confinement, at least 19 continue to use solitary confinement for other purposes, such as safety concerns.
- Only 7 of the 19 set limits on the maximum time a juvenile can spend in non-punitive solitary confinement, and the majority of those limits range from 3 to 5 days, which is a long time for youth to be in isolation.
- 7 of the 19 provide that the juvenile should be released when he/she regains self-control, irrespective of the time limit, but those decisions are often left to the discretion of the corrections officer.
Keywords: juveniles in segregation, juveniles in solitary confinement, children, youth, disciplinary segregation, punitive segregation, national survey, national comparisons