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February 08, 2016 Practice Points

Ban on Solitary Confinement of Juveniles in Federal Prison

By Cathy Krebs

President Obama has issued an executive order that bans solitary confinement of juveniles in federal prisons and jails.  Although there are only a few hundred youth in federal prisons and jails, this is an important acknowledgment of the devastation caused by solitary confinement, particularly for juveniles.  The order arose from a review conducted by the Department of Justice focused on how, when, and why correctional facilities isolate certain prisoners from the general inmate population.  The review resulted in a report and recommendations and includes 50 Guiding Principles covering issues, such as the use of the restrictive housing as a form of punishment, the appropriate conditions of confinement in restrictive housing, and the proper treatment of vulnerable inmate populations, such as juveniles, pregnant women, LGBTI inmates, and inmates with serious mental illness.

Cathy Krebs is the committee manager of the Children's Rights Litigation Committee at the ABA Section of Litigation in Washington, D.C.

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