…campaign seeks to extend the ban

By David Le

A campaign is underway to end solitary confinement for youth in juvenile and adult facilities across the United States.

The campaign was launched in April by a number of national groups, including the Center for Children’s Law and Policy. The new partnership is called Stop Solitary for Kids.

Leading the campaign is Jennifer Lutz, who said she believes collaborative efforts with juvenile correction facility staff and youth advocates can “create realistic and lasting change.”

The group held a meeting in Washington on youth incarceration issues that included U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ; Roy Austin, the president’s deputy assistant; and top federal administrators from various youth justice bureaus.

In an email to the San Quentin News, Lutz said that “eliminating solitary confinement and long-term monetary savings are possible.” That goal would involve developing and using behavioral management systems, training on de-escalation techniques, and programming to keep youth engaged.

In June, the campaign joined a group of national experts and youths organized by the Department of Justice to address solitary confinement issues.

Since the launch of the campaign, the federal juvenile justice bureau has endorsed the campaign’s efforts. Also, the campaign has gained signatory supports from more than 50 organizations nationwide. Some of which are in the correctional fields: American Probation and Parole Association, American Correctional Association, Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators and others.

Partnered organizations of the campaign are the Council of Juvenile Correction Administrators, consisting of juvenile justice directors statewide; the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University, which provides training to state and local juvenile justice personnel; and the Justice Policy Institute, specializing in research and policy advocacy.

According to Lutz, there is no direct opposition to the campaign, but many correctional administrators and staff do feel unsafe should solitary confinement be eliminated because they think that youth will engage in disruptive behavior without fearing the consequences.

Visit www.stopsolitaryforkids.org or #stopsolitaryforkids for more information.

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