other settings.394 No one knows this better than the people who work in juvenile facilities,395 but
they need the involvement of other system players to create sustained change. There is a
tremendous need for systemic discussions about what to do so that youth who are most likely to
be subjected to room confinement are not detained in the first place.396
The California work is already helping to inspire change elsewhere. For the first time in
years, the American Correctional Association is revisiting its standards on isolation/removal for
disciplinary room confinement, protective custody, and special management.397 The proposed
changes are strikingly similar to the new California law—including a prohibition of separation for
discipline or punishment, requiring review by a supervisor if separation exceeds four hours, and
providing youth who are in separation for more than four hours with education, treatment, medical,
and recreational services.398 The resulting changes are anticipated in 2019.399
Thirty years ago, a small group of advocates, youth, and families began to speak out about
the frightening use of locked room confinement. Beginning with letters and calls to journalists,
legislators, and litigators, their efforts eventually gained traction, resulting in the enormous
changes discussed in this article. Evolving consciousness among justice system professionals and
the development of practical resources to support change now bring us closer to the end of solitary
confinement for youth. This success in addressing what once seemed an intractable practice
suggests that there are no limits to what we can do to transform the way young people are treated
in the youth justice system.
394 See Karen M. Abram et al., Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among Detained Youth 1-11, OJJDP JUV. JUST.
BULL., U.S. Dept. of Justice, Wash., D.C. (July 2014); BARRY HOLMAN & JASON ZIEDENBERG, THE DANGERS OF
DETENTION: THE IMPACT OF INCARCERATING YOUTH IN DETENTION AND OTHER SECURE FACILITIES 7-8 (2006),
available at http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/06-11_rep_dangersofdetention_jj.pdf.
395 See EDWARD COHEN & JANE PFEIFER, COSTS OF INCARCERATING YOUTH WITH MENTAL ILLNESS: FINAL REPORT
10-17, prepared for the Chief Probation Officers of California (2008).
396 The Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative has extensive materials on how to change systemic practices to
prevent unnecessary detention. See Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative Resources, ANNIE E. CASEY FOUND.,
D=report_series%3APathways+to+Juvenile+Detention+Reform+Series (last visited Jan. 6, 2019). Also, the John D.
and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Model for Change Initiative has extensive materials on systemic reform,
including many on keeping youth with mental health needs out of the system. See Mental/behavioral health, MODELS
FOR CHANGE, http://www.modelsforchange.net/publications/listing.html?tags=Mental%2fbehavioral+health (last
visited Jan. 6, 2019).
397 AM. CORR. ASS’N, PERFORMANCE BASED STANDARDS JUVENILE CORR. FACILITIES 51 (4th ed. 2009); Jenny Lutz,
ACA Releases Proposed Changes to Youth Isolation Standards, STOP SOLITARY FOR KIDS (Dec. 8, 2017),
398 Use of Separation with Juveniles – Proposed Expected Practices and Definition, AM. CORRECTIONAL ASS’N,
h%20Juveniles_Portal.pdf (last visited Jan. 6, 2019).