1,000 signatures reached
To: Governor Jerry Brown
End the Long-Term Isolation of Youth in California’s Juvenile Facilities
End the long-term isolation of youth in California’s juvenile facilities. Putting young people in long-term isolation is harmful and has no rehabilitative value. Sign Senate Bill 1143 without delay and ban isolation of youth for the purposes of punishment, coercion, convenience, or retaliation.
Why is this important?
In California’s juvenile facilities, young people can be locked away in isolation for weeks and months at a time—separated from their families and meaningful human contact.
Confining youth in isolation has no rehabilitative value and can have devastating psychological effects on young people who are already vulnerable to depression and suicide. Nationally, over half of the youth who committed suicide while in a correctional facility were in isolation at the time. Further, when youth are kept in isolation, they do not have access to programming and education services.
Senate Bill 1143 (SB 1143), authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), states that room confinement of youth can only be used after less restrictive options have been tried, and bans its use for the purposes of punishment, coercion, convenience, or retaliation. The bill also requires that room confinement is limited to four hours generally and cannot be used to the extent that it compromises the mental and physical health of the person.
In a recent editorial supporting this bill, the Los Angeles Times wrote: “Being locked away from contact with others can have a devastating effect on anyone, but when imposed on a young person dealing with trauma, mental illness or other disability it tends to exacerbate rather than curb behavioral problems.”
This bill builds on growing national momentum to end the harmful practice of long-term isolation. More than 20 states ban the use of isolation in juvenile facilities for punitive reasons. In 2016, President Obama ordered the end of solitary confinement of youth in federal juvenile facilities.
Crafted collaboratively by youth advocates and system administrators, this bill strikes the right balance in establishing a policy that prioritizes the health and rehabilitation of youth in detention, while maintaining the safety of all youth and staff in juvenile facilities.
After 5 years of efforts to pass similar bills, SB 1143 has passed the California Senate and Assembly and is now awaiting Governor Jerry Brown’s signature. We must show the governor that thousands of people across the state want him to protect the basic human rights of our most vulnerable populations, including children in local and state juvenile facilities. By passing this bill, we will help to address one of the most critical and important issues facing our children who enter the juvenile justice system. Sign the petition to join us in calling upon the Governor to end the long-term isolation of youth.
This bill is sponsored by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Youth Justice Coalition, California Public Defenders Association, the Children’s Defense Fund-CA, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice—Bay Area, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, and the Chief Probation Officers of California.
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