East County News Service
April 7, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)—A measure set for hearing this week in the California Senate Public Safety Committee aims to end solitary confinement of children in our state.
Angela Chung with the Children’s Defense Fund supports the bill. She states, “Every day in detention facilities all across the state, children as young as 13 are held in solitary confinement for days, weeks and sometimes months at a time. Far from promoting safety or aiding in rehabilitation, this Draconian disciplinary practice exposes already vulnerable young people to severe psychological and developmental trauma form which they may never fully recover.”
Senate Bill 124 by State Senator Jay Leno would place strict limitations on use of solitary confinement in juvenile justice facilities and encourage more positive and developmentally appropriate methods for working with youths to help them learn from past missteps and develop the education and social skills needed to succeed once they return to their communities.
If passed, the measure would allow detention facilities to use solitary confinement only if an individual "poses an immediate and substantial risk of harm to the security of the facility" or "poses an immediate and substantial risk of harm to others that is not the result of a mental disorder.”
In addition, the bill limits time in solitary confinement to only the "minimum time required to address the risk, and for a period of time that does not compromise the mental and physical health of the minor." The measure proposes a four-hour time limit.
A minor who is a danger to himself or herself or others due to a mental disorder cannot be placed in solitary confinement, according to the bill, which requires that instead, the child be transferred to a mental health facility for evaluation.