isolation from number of days to number of hours spent in isolation.275 A recent report notes that
very few state agencies have policies that permit extended time in isolation, and the majority of
these agencies limit the amount of time youth may spend in isolation to as little as three hours and
up to a maximum of five days.276 The PbS Learning Institute reports that between 2008 and
2012, the average time youth spent in isolation declined in all PbS facilities, including both short
term detention and longer term correctional facilities.277 During that period, “[c]orrections
facilities more than cut in half the average time a youth spent in isolation and room
confinement.”278 “During that same time period, the percent of cases of isolation and room
confinement ending in four hours or less increased” and the percent of cases ending in eight hours
or less increased.279 The use of PbS can help the field by providing resources, networking and
site specific coaching that can enable facilities to better implement behavior management best
practices in lieu of using isolation.
PbS recommends a range of activities and measures for facilities that can create better
systems of behavior management and limit or eliminate the use of isolation. These include:
A strong “behavior management system that relies on rewards and incentives”;
Isolation should only be used to “neutralize out-of-control behavior and redirect
it into positive behavior and should not be used as punishment”;
Staff training should include a curriculum that focuses on adolescent
development and stresses “the value of positive over negative reinforcement”
Staff training should include “the negative repercussions and ineffectiveness of
long-term isolation and the rationale for” shortening the length of time in
The facility should have policies governing the duration of isolation and room
The facility should review events and incidents resulting in isolation to examine
other more appropriate responses, length of isolation and how youth was
The facility should have an oversight agency to conduct regular reviews of
isolation inclusive of the monitoring of youth while in isolation.280
PbS outcome measures were designed by the Council of Juvenile Correctional
Administrators (CJCA) after an analysis of eighteen juvenile civil rights investigations and cases
during a ten-year period.281 The resulting outcome measures address the most serious trends
found by the Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights as the basis of CRIPA violations.282
The effective use of PbS can also reduce the likelihood of civil rights violations and increase the
made for protective isolation, medical isolation or when requested by a youth.” Id. Time is measured from the time the youth is placed
in the room until he or she leaves, including sleeping time when extending overnight. Id.
275 Id. at 4.
276 Id. at 4.
277 This may be attributable to concerns linking suicide risk and the use of isolation which stemmed from the release of “Juvenile
Suicide in Confinement: A National Survey” in 2009. Id. “The report highlighted many of the dangerous practices that are most likely
to lead to suicide in youth facilities, one of which was confining them alone in their room.” Id.
280 PBS LEARNING INST., PBS GOALS, STANDARDS, OUTCOME MEASURES, EXPECTED PRACTICES AND PROCESSES 8, 10 (2007),
281 PBS LEARNING INST., MAPPING PERFORMANCE-BASED STANDARDS AND CIVIL RIGHTS INVESTIGATIONS 1 (2013),