[Guest Post] End Solitary Confinement of Youth in Adult Jails and Prisons / by richard ross

Governors have an historic opportunity through the Prison Rape Elimination Act to do just that:cfyj_prea_teal-01

From Campaign For Youth Justice's Liz Ryan: This year, governors will need to certify that their states are in compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), a law that Congress unanimously approved in 2003, designed to end sexual violence behind bars. To implement PREA, the U.S. Department of Justice issued regulations, including provisions restricting the placement of youth in adult jails and prisons. The U.S. Department of Justice regulations state: “as a matter of policy, the Department supports strong limitations on the confinement of adults with juveniles.” The regulations further ban the housing of youth in the general adult population, prohibit contact between youth and adults in common areas, ensure youth are constantly supervised by staff; and limit the use of isolation.

Simply separating youth from adults in adult jails and prisons isn’t enough to protect youth. When officials separate youth from adults in adult facilities under the guise of protection, they are addressing one problem and creating another. In order to keep youth separated from adults, youth are often placed in their cells for excessive periods of isolation—isolation that equates to solitary confinement. The report, “Growing Up Locked Down” released by Human Rights Watch and the ACLU, along with Ted Koppel’s March 22, 2013 program about youth in solitary confinement in adult jails and prisons showed the harm this practice causes, including depression, exacerbating already existing mental health issues, and putting youth at risk of suicide. It is crucial that governors implement best practices being set under the PREA to fully protect youth in the justice system—by removing youth from adult jails and prisons and by accessing federal support to undertake new reforms.


Take Action Now: 

Click here https://www.change.org/petitions/governors-remove-youth-from-adult-jails-and-prisons# to sign the petition, which will be sent to governors nationwide. Your signature makes a difference.

Liz Ryan brings more than two decades of experience to the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ), an organization she founded that is dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating children in the adult criminal justice system.