Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Growing Up Locked Down

Youth in Solitary Confinement in Jails and Prisons Across the United States

Growing Up Locked Down

Kysel, Ian. Growing Up Locked Down: Youth in Solitary Confinement in Jails and Prisons Across the United States. Human Rights Watch/American Civil Liberties Union, 2012.

“Every day in jails and prisons across the United States, large numbers of young people under age 18 are held in solitary confinement. They spend 22 or more hours each day physically and socially isolated in a small cell, often for weeks or even months on end. Adolescents in solitary confinement are routinely denied access to needed treatment, services, and programming. The practice is serious and widespread.

The solitary confinement of adults can cause severe pain and suffering and can violate international human rights and US constitutional law. But the potential damage to young people, who do not have the maturity of an adult and are at a particularly vulnerable stage of life, is much greater. Yet, solitary confinement of young people is not necessary; there are alternative ways to address the problems that officials cite as justifications for using solitary confinement. Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union call on US federal and state governments to prohibit the solitary confinement of young people under age 18; prohibit the housing of adolescents with adults or in adult jails and prisons; strictly limit and regulate all forms of segregation and isolation; and monitor and report on the segregation and isolation of young people, whenever they are deprived of their liberty.”

Click here to view the report.

Keywords: youth, adolescents, human rights, reform, abolition, case studies, alternatives, disciplinary segregation, administrative segregation, protective custody, programming, harmful effects, legislation, auditing