A new ban on solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prison could bring momentum to reform efforts in states, says the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. President Obama announced the ban and other prison reforms Monday, saying he hoped the policies would be a model for state and local corrections systems. Jenny Lutz of the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, which is helping to organize a national campaign against youth solitary, said Obama’s action may be “a springboard for people in states who want to be active and weren't really sure there was a climate for it.”
“I think this extra push from the Obama administration is just what this movement needs,” said Amy Fettig of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project. In California, children's advocates have been pushing a bill for several years that would strictly limit the use of solitary confinement for children, and the legislation was recently reintroduced. Alex Johnson of the Children’s Defense Fund-California said the administration's example will be a powerful one as the bill works its way through the state legislature. In Nebraska, lawmakers could consider a bipartisan bill this spring that would require clearer rules and data collection on solitary confinement for youth. Advocates are optimistic the bill will advance quickly out of committee, which reacted positively this month.