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630-472-9700Available 24/7

Illinois Bans Solitary Confinement for Juveniles

Posted on in Criminal Defense

solitary confinement, Illinois policy, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyA federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has led to a settlement which will ban the practice of solitary confinement in juvenile correctional institutions in the state. This makes Illinois the twentieth state in the country to do so.

The ACLU filed its lawsuit, R.J. v. Jones, against the state in 2012 because of the serious conditions the organization says existed in Illinois juvenile correctional facilities. Instead of fighting the lawsuit, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice agreed to negotiate with the ACLU in order to come up with proposals to improve those conditions. One of the issues the lawsuit addressed was the use of placing children in solitary confinement as punishment, a practice which Adam Schwartz, senior lawyer with the ACLU of Illinois, calls “one of the most abusive practices used in prisons in the United States.”

There are currently approximately 700 juveniles who are being held in the state’s six juvenile correctional facilities and the new policy will apply to all six of those institutions. The policy requires that juveniles at these locations spend a minimum of eight hours daily outside of their cell. The only time a juvenile is allowed to be placed into solitary confinement is if the child has become a threat to others around them, but even under those circumstances, they may only be separated for short time periods. If a juvenile is placed in solitary, he or she will now continue to receive any mental health and/or education services throughout his or her confinement in isolation.

Many juvenile justice advocates say that placing juveniles in isolation does the exact opposite of what it is meant to do. Instead of calming the juvenile down, many instead develop symptoms of depression and paranoia.  Additionally, a study conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) discovered that more than fifty percent of suicides by juvenile inmates happen when they have been placed in solitary confinement.

If your child has been arrested and charged with a crime, contact an experienced DuPage County defense attorney to ensure that your child’s legal rights are protected. Call the offices of Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. today at 630-472-9700.

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