The standards on disciplinary “room confinement” provided due process procedures for
youth in confinement longer than twenty-four hours,169 limited room confinement longer than
twenty-four hours to the most serious violations, and prohibited continuous imposition of more
than seventy-two hours of confinement.170
Although the 2006 standards reflected best practices prevailing at the time, ideas about
locked room confinement were quickly evolving. Armed with heightened awareness of the dangers
of the practice and new information on effective alternative behavior management techniques,
some facilities around the country had already eliminated or reduced reliance on the use of
disciplinary room confinement.171 When the Foundation decided to update its standards around
2012, it focused particular attention on the use of isolation and room confinement.
Over the course of nearly eighteen months during 2013 and 2014, the Washington D.C.-based Center for Children’s Law and Policy and San Francisco-based Youth Law Center staff
reviewed changes in laws and professional standards around the country, consulted with
practitioners and experts, and researched best practices and lessons from sites’ experiences using
the standards.172 More than thirty experts and practitioners reviewed proposed revisions before
they were incorporated into the standards.173 As the revision process took shape, the Foundation
convened a group of conditions experts, advocates, and institutional administrators to discuss the
proposed changes. In conjunction with this work, JDAI consultant Paul DeMuro wrote a
monograph about the need to abolish the use of “isolation” and how to accomplish it.174
The resulting June 2014 standards eliminated the use of the term “isolation” and used the
term “room confinement” to describe the involuntary restriction of a youth alone in a cell, room,
or other area for any reason.175 The standards prohibited the use of room confinement for
discipline, punishment, administrative convenience, retaliation, staffing shortages, or reasons other
than as a temporary response to behavior that threatens immediate harm to a youth or others.176
Staff members were not to place youth in room confinement for longer than four hours.177 After
that point, staff members were required to return the youth to the general population, develop
special individualized programming for the youth, or consult with a qualified mental health
professional about whether the youth’s behavior required that he or she be transported to a mental
health facility.178 They were to use less restrictive techniques prior to using room confinement,
were not to use room confinement for fixed periods of time, and were to engage in ongoing crisis
intervention with one-on-one observation while the youth was in the room.179 There were
extensive provisions for administrative approval and involvement of mental health staff180 and
169 Id. at 53-54.
170 Id. at 55.
171 JUVENILE DETENTION FACILITY ASSESSMENT, supra note 165.
174 Paul DeMuro, Toward Abolishing the Use of Disciplinary Isolation in Juvenile Justice Institutions: Some Initial
Ideas (Revised) (Jan. 22, 2014), available at
175 Id. at 6.
176 Id.; JUVENILE DETENTION FACILITY ASSESSMENT, supra note 165, at 177.