or gender identity13 and those with disabilities have a heightened risk of placement in locked room
The remainder of this section clarifies the scope of the article, provides a roadmap for what
follows, and discusses terminology. Section II describes California’s past use of “solitary
confinement” in state juvenile facilities and its role in general conditions reform, discusses early
and evolving advocacy efforts, reviews media and legislative attention, provides a history of the
Farrell litigation over state facility conditions and audits by the Inspector General, summarizes
litigation alleging abuse of locked room confinement in county facilities, and describes
California’s system for oversight. Section III focuses on the overlapping and simultaneous reform
movements in California since 2000. Section IV reviews litigation and local action to limit locked
room confinement, which has occurred simultaneously with legislative efforts from roughly 2010-
2016. Section V details the five-year history of California’s “solitary confinement”/room
confinement legislation from 2012-2016 and its outcomes. Finally, section VI provides a
cautionary note about the implementation of changed practices for solitary confinement and
suggests necessary actions to solidify and sustain progress.
Before continuing, it is necessary to discuss terminology. Institutional policies and
practices typically use a variety of neutral sounding terms to describe the practice of locked room
confinement, including: “room restriction,” “segregation,” “isolation,” “room lock,” “lockdown,”
“seclusion,” “special management housing,” “behavior modification unit,” “room confinement,”
“room time,” or “time out.” 15 Advocates, defense attorneys, mental health professionals, and
families calling for conditions reform often use the term “solitary confinement.” 16 They use the
facilities while their white counterparts are recognized as in need of help and directed toward therapeutic facilities.
M.R. Isaacs, Assessing the Mental Health Needs of Children and Adolescents of Color in the Juvenile Justice System:
Overcoming Institutionalized Perceptions and Barriers, in RESPONDING TO THE MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS OF YOUTH
IN THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM 153 (2002); Kathleen J. Pottick et al., Judging Mental Disorder in Youths: Effects
of Client, Clinician, and Contextual Differences, 75 J. OF CONSULTING & CLINICAL PSYCHOL. 1, 6–8 (2007); see Will
Drakeford & Lili Frank Garfinkel, Differential Treatment of African American Youth, 9 RECLAIMING CHILD. & YOUTH
51, 51 (2000).
13 Shannan Wilber, A Guide to Juvenile Detention Reform: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in the
Juvenile Justice System, 11 ANNIE E. CASEY FOUND. 2, 12, 30 (2015), http://www.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/AECF-
lesbiangaybisexualandtransgenderyouthinjj-2015.pdf; LGBTQ Youths in the Juvenile Justice System, OFF. OF JUV.
JUST. & DELINQUENCY PREVENTION 1, 6 (updated Aug. 2014),
https://www.ojjdp.gov/mpg/litreviews/LGBTQYouthsintheJuvenileJusticeSystem.pdf; CTR. FOR AM. PROGRESS ET
AL., UNJUST: HOW THE BROKEN CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM FAILS LGBTQ PEOPLE OF COLOR 29 (Aug. 2016),
available at https://www.lgbtmap.org/file/lgbt-criminal-justice-poc.pdf.
14 Feierman et al., supra note 12; see also SUE BURRELL & ALICE BUSSIERE, DIFFICULT TO PLACE: YOUTH WITH
MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS IN CALIFORNIA JUVENILE JUSTICE 8–9 (Youth Law Center 2005), available at
http://www.ylc.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/difficulttoplaceAug2005.pdf (youth with behavioral or emotional
disturbance all too often are locked up in facilities that are ill-equipped to handle their needs and once inside deteriorate
further while in custody, only to be subjected to control measures, including isolation and mechanical restraints).
15 Natalie J. Kraner et al., Jurisdiction Survey of Juvenile Solitary Confinement Rules in Juvenile Justice Systems,
LOWENSTEIN CTR. FOR THE PUB. INTEREST 1, 51 (July 2016); see NELL BERNSTEIN, BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE: THE
END OF JUVENILE PRISON 131 (2014); Sandra Simkins, et al., The Harmful Use of Isolation in Juvenile Facilities: The
Need for Post-Disposition Representation, 38 WASH. U. J. L. & POL’Y 241, 252 (2012).
16 See, e.g., Our Mission, STOP SOLITARY FOR KIDS, http://www.stopsolitaryforkids.org/ (advocates); Solitary
Confinement and Isolation in Juvenile Detention and Correctional Facilities, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION,
https://www.aclu.org/files/assets/4%202%20Juvenile%20Solitary_Two%20Pager.pdf (advocates); Stop Solitary for
Ohio’s Youth, CHILDREN’S LAW CTR., INC., http://www.childrenslawky.org/stop-solitary-for-ohio-youth/ (lawyers);
Feierman, et al., supra note 12 (lawyers); American Juvenile Justice Reform Committee, Solitary Confinement of