Juveniles can be placed in solitary confinement in California, but only for a brief period of time. Correctional facilities for children operate in a much different fashion than adult correctional facilities. Much of California law is concerned with the protection of children. These protections are deemed crucial even within detention centers.
Juvenile detainees have far more rights than their adult counterparts. Unfortunately, with adult inmates, the focus of the prison system is often much more on punishment than rehabilitation.
However, people see a lot more opportunity for change at the juvenile level. Because of this, these systems have a much stronger focus on getting inmates on a better path rather than simply punishing them.
How Long Can Solitary Confinement Last?
In juvenile facilities, solitary confinement is not referred to as such but is instead called room confinement. Room confinement refers to the placing of a detainee into a locked room or cell. In these cases, the minor has minimal, to no contact with anyone aside from correctional staff or the inmate’s lawyer.
Previously, there were no guidelines concerning solitary confinement in juvenile facilities. However, on January 1st, 2018, the California State Legislature enacted guidelines that placed specific standards on how room confinement should be conducted. Part of these guidelines states that room confinement should generally not last more than four hours.
Once the four hours of confinement have passed, the facility management has a few options of how to proceed. The first option is to release the minor back into the general population. Alternatively, the juvenile could be consulted by medical staff.
If it is determined to not be safe to reintegrate the inmate at the end of the four hours, the staff must develop an individualized reintegration plan. The plan must include objectives that have to be met before reintegration can occur.
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When Should Room Confinement Occur?
Room confinement in a juvenile facility should only ever occur as a last resort. A minor should only be placed in room confinement when all less restrictive options have proven ineffective. If these options put the safety of facility staff or other minor inmates at risk, then the minor should be placed in room confinement.
Room confinement should only be a protection measure. A minor should never face room confinement as a form of punishment, convenience, coercion, or retaliation. Room confinement can not be used if medical staff determines that it compromises the mental or physical health of the minor.
What Steps Must Be Taken When Extending Room Confinement?
When extending room confinement beyond the regular four-hour period, facility staff must follow several guidelines. These steps ensure they are not in violation of the California Welfare and Institutions Code §208.3 regarding the use of room confinement.
When extending room confinement beyond four hours, correctional facility staff must:
- Document the reason for confinement and extension, along with the time and date the minor was placed into room confinement and when they were released
- Develop an individualized plan for objectives that must be met so that the juvenile can be reintegrated into the general population
- Get official authorization from the facility superintendent or their designee every four hours that the minor continues to be held in room confinement
It is important to note that all regulations under California Welfare and Institutions Code §208.3 apply only to minors being held in juvenile facilities. A minor incarcerated in a holding facility or adult detention center is not protected under this law.
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If the Rights of a Minor Are Violated
If you or your child feel that unlawful solitary confinement occurred in a youth correctional facility, it is vital that you contact a lawyer. Detainees in these facilities have rights, and if those rights and a juvenile defense lawyer can help protect those rights.
Contact the Simmrin Law Group today to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Our team will review your case and advise you of your options for legal action against the facility or its staff if they broke any regulations.