in youth facilities.267
B. Senate Bill 1363 (2012): First Try
In February 2012, Senator Yee introduced S.B. 1363.268 The bill defined solitary
confinement as “the involuntary holding of a person in isolation from persons, other than guards,
custodial and clinical staff, and an attorney, for sixteen or more hours per day in a room, cell, or
area from which the person is prevented from leaving.”269 The bill limited solitary confinement to
situations when a youth poses an immediate and substantial risk of harm to others, or the security
of the facility and all other less restrictive options had been exhausted, and only for the minimum
time required to address the safety risk, not to exceed twenty-four consecutive hours in a one week
period absent administrative approval.270 For minors with suicidal or self-harming behavior, the
bill required clinician involvement within four hours and removal to an off-site facility if the risk
could not be resolved within twenty-four hours.271 It protected youth rights to visitation and other
basic services.272 Finally, the bill prohibited the use of solitary confinement for the purposes of
discipline or punishment.273
A press release from the Ella Baker Center stated that, although the United Nations had
called on all countries to prohibit solitary confinement in juvenile cases, the harsh practice was
used rampantly in state and local juvenile facilities throughout California.274 Senator Yee stated
that “[t]he use of solitary confinement of a child is wrong and should be used only in the most
extreme situations.”275 Speaking as a child psychologist, he noted that “[t]he studies are clear—
holding juveniles in solitary increases recidivism rates, exacerbates existing mental illness, and
makes youth more likely to attempt suicide. Solitary confinement does nothing to help rehabilitate
and thus S.B. 1363 is necessary to limit the cruel practice.”276 Jennifer Kim, from the Ella Baker
Center, added that “[s]olitary confinement is torture,” and “has no place in a system that is
mandated to provide treatment and rehabilitation.”277 Three family members spoke about the
impact of solitary confinement on their children.278 Maria Sanchez recognized that, while her son
has made mistakes in his life,
he wasn't sentenced to be tortured. He wasn't sentenced to sit in a cold cell by
himself all day with no help. I want him to gain the skills he needs to make the right
choices. I want him to breathe some fresh air and to have enough food to eat. I want
267 Interview with Jennifer Kim, supra note 263.
268 S.B. 1363, 2011-2012 Leg., Reg. Sess. (Cal. 2012).
273 S.B. 1363, 2011-2012 Leg., Reg. Sess. (Cal. 2012).
274 Legislation Would Limit Use of Solitary Confinement at Juvenile Facilities, ELLA BAKER CTR. FOR HUM. RTS.
(Feb. 24, 2012), http://ellabakercenter.org/in-the-news/books-not-bars-california-budget-and-legislation/legislation-would-limit-use-of-solitary [hereinafter ELLA BAKER CTR. FOR HUMAN RTS.].