Not in Isolation: How to Reduce Room Confinement While Increasing Safety in Youth Facilities
Date:  07-01-2019

How three state agencies and one county sheriff's department undertook efforts to safely reduce the use of room confinement
From The Center for Children’s Law and Policy:

In 2016, the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University, and Justice Policy Institute launched the Stop Solitary for Kids campaign. The Campaign’s goal is to safely reduce and ultimately end the dangerous practice of solitary confinement for young people in juvenile and adult facilities. Collaboration between stakeholders both inside and outside youth facilities is a key Campaign philosophy. The Campaign works with advocates, lawmakers, state and local government official, state juvenile justice agency directors, superintendents of state and local juvenile facilities, parents, youth, and community leaders to highlight effective strategies to reduce and eliminate solitary confinement.

There is widespread and growing awareness of the harms and ineffectiveness of solitary confinement within the youth justice field and among the public at large. The practice – alternatively described as “room confinement,” “isolation,” “separation,” or “seclusion” – is the involuntary placement of a youth alone in a room or other area for any reason other than as a temporary response to behavior that risks immediate physical harm. As demonstrated throughout this publication, the harms of solitary confinement are experienced most acutely by youth with mental illness, youth with trauma histories, youth of color, and LGBTQ and gender non-conforming youth.

Not in Isolation is a practical guide to help leaders and agencies develop roadmaps to reducing room confinement in their facilities. Because there are multiple existing resources documenting the negative effects of room confinement on youth and staff, Not in Isolation instead focuses on ways to avoid and prevent the practice of room confinement altogether.

Answering the Question: “If Not Room Confinement, Then What?”

As national developments and standards call for limits on the use of room confinement, the challenge of implementation falls largely on state and local facilities. In 2015, the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators published the Toolkit on Reducing Isolation, which outlined several core strategies for reducing room confinement. However, throughout the Campaign’s work, agency directors and facility superintendents ask additional questions such as, “How can I reduce room confinement while keeping youth and staff safe?” and “How have other facilities like mine started this process?” Many administrators want information on effective strategies to reduce room confinement and real-world examples of how to implement strategies in practice.

This first-of-its-kind publication tells the stories of how three state agencies and one county sheriff’s department operating a juvenile detention facility undertook efforts to safely reduce the use of room confinement: Colorado Division of Youth Services; Massachusetts Department of Youth Services; Oregon Youth Authority; and Shelby County Sheriff’s Department in Memphis. Continue reading >>>