DRA’s Response to the Obama Administration’s Decision to Eliminate the Use of Isolation Upon Juveniles in Federal Custody
Solitary confinement of children in state custody is a serious problem in Arkansas. Through our monitoring efforts, DRA has determined that youth in the juvenile justice system are routinely placed in prolonged periods of punitive isolation. One youth recently spent 92 days in isolation while in state custody. Other youth have been placed in solitary confinement for days and weeks as punishment for slight offenses. Still others began self-harming during their time in isolation.
In addition to violating best practices standards, isolating children has a profound effect on their development, inhibits the treatment they are supposed to receive while in state custody, halts their education, and creates lasting psychological consequences.
DRA has repeatedly expressed concern to the Division of Youth Services over the lack of any statewide standards on isolation. Now is the time for Arkansas to adopt enforceable standards curtailing this cruel practice and ensuring that the treatment needs of youth are met.