Young people are being held for long periods of time in solitary confinement in prisons and jails, a practice that should be eliminated, two advocacy groups said Wednesday. The Los Angeles Times says a report by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch found that those younger than 18 are being held in solitary confinement for weeks or months at a time, especially teenagers who are lodged in adult facilities. The groups estimated that more than 95,000 youths under age 18 were in solitary in 2011. “Locking kids in solitary confinement with little or no contact with other people is cruel, harmful and unnecessary,” said Ian Kysel, author of the report.
The study, “Growing Up Locked Down: Youth in Solitary Confinement in Jails and Prisons Across the United States,” is based on research in U.S. jails and prisons in five states – Colorado, Florida, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania – and correspondence with young people in 14 others, the groups said. Researchers interviewed or corresponded with more than 125 young people who spent time in solitary confinement while under age 18. Jail and prison officials in 10 states also were interviewed or contacted. The ACLU has pushed to limit solitary confinement of youths. It has reached settlements with Mississippi and Montana and has been working on the issue in West Virginia and Illinois, among other states.