There is a growing national consensus that placing juveniles in solitary confinement is both unconstitutional and inhumane. Youth entering the criminal justice system often have histories of childhood trauma, mental illness, and substance abuse. Research shows that solitary confinement exacerbates these problems and increases the risk of suicide and self-harm. And solitary confinement is ineffective—there is no evidence that it improves behavior. Instead, studies show that those who have been isolated from the general population are more likely to reoffend than those who haven’t been isolated.
SSB 6112 will (1) prohibit the use of juvenile solitary confinement as a form of punishment, (2) limit the use of juvenile room confinement or isolation for other reasons such as safety to no more than 4 hours in any 24-hour period with limited exceptions, and (3) require the adoption of a model policy to ensure that all youth in Washington state are treated equally with respect to the circumstances of confinement. This bill is essential to protect juveniles housed in detention facilities and to ensure that they have the best possible chance to succeed when then re-enter society.