Ca. Announces End of Youth Inmate Isolation


Ending a practice that critics call inhumane, the director of the California Youth Authority says that young inmates who misbehave will no longer be isolated 23 hours a day in barren segregation cells. The Los Angeles Times said Walter Allen III did not explain how prisons will manage troublesome youths who are now sent to special detention units and deprived of privileges for 60 to 90 days. After members of the Senate Rules Committee called the practice of near-round-the-clock confinement in 6-by-8-foot cells barbaric, Allen said, “As of today … it is over. We are going to change our way of doing business. We’re going to change the conditions of confinement.”

Allen’s spoke as the committee met to consider whether to confirm him as director of the troubled agency, which houses 4,300 inmates in 11 prisons and camps on an annual budget of about $391 million. If Allen “means that kids are no longer going to be locked up for very long, both in terms of hours in their cell and number of days, then it’s a good thing,” said Donald Specter of the Prison Law Office, a nonprofit firm that has sued the state over conditions in the CYA. “But you have to have some plan to deal with inmates creating problems. The question is, will their approach be punitive or therapeutic?”


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