Tuesday, June 23, 2015

California Legislation Seeks To Curb Solitary Confinement For Juveniles

On June 2, 2015, the California Senate passed Senate Bill 124, which aims to severely limit, if not effectively eliminate, solitary confinement in juvenile detention facilities.

The Bill goes before the full Assembly this summer, and, if passed, would be among the most progressive pieces of legislation concerning juvenile detention in the country.

Inhumane and unconscionable conditions in juvenile detention facilities have been documented and exposed around the country, prompting national calls for reform. Isolating youth, particularly youth with mental health issues, only creates or exacerbates pre-existing psychological or emotional conditions, including increasing the risk of or causing suicide.

Senate Bill 124 would restrict the use of solitary confinement in California juvenile detention facilities to very limited purposes. For instance, it would only allow for the facility to use solitary confinement for up to 4 hours per day, and only as a measure of last resort, which must be documented.

Furthermore, such isolation would only be permitted if the youth poses as an imminent risk of substantial harm to other youth or facility officers, and all other less restrictive measures have been explored.

At this time, approximately 700 youth are incarcerated in California’s correctional juvenile detention facilities. Investigations of some facilities within the past few years have found that juveniles were isolated for up to 23 hours per day, or only permitted outdoors for 40 minutes per day.

SB 124 is co-sponsored by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Youth Justice Coalition, the California Public Defender’s Association, and the Children’s Defense Fund – California.

Katie Walsh is a criminal defense attorney in Santa Ana, emphasizing her practice in juvenile law and victim rights.

No comments:

Post a Comment