Center on Sentencing and Corrections

S. 1965 - MERCY Act

S. 1965 - MERCY Act

The United States Senate. “S.1965 – Maintaining dignity and Eliminating unnecessary Restrictive Confinement of Youths Act of 2015″ or “the MERCY Act,” (Washington: 114th Congress, August 2015).

This bill amends the federal criminal code to prohibit the use of room confinement at a juvenile facility for discipline, punishment, retaliation, or any reason other than as a temporary response to a covered juvenile’s behavior that poses a serious and immediate risk of physical harm to any individual, including such juvenile. The bill requires that staff members use less restrictive techniques, including de-escalation techniques or discussions with a qualified mental health professional, before a juvenile is placed in room confinement. It mandates that the juvenile be informed of why the room confinement occurred. It limits solitary confinement on juveniles that pose a risk of harming others to no more than 3 hours and to no more than half an hour for juveniles who pose a risk of harm to themselves. After the maximum period of confinement expires, the bill mandates that juveniles be transferred to a facility where services can be provided.

The bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate in August 2015 and was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. It has not yet been passed.

Click here to see the bill’s legislative history.

Click here to view the text of the bill.

Keywords: solitary confinement, segregated housing, youth, juvenile, federal custody, youth confinement